My post was too long, so here's some other stuff/
My book recommendations:
- Binocular Astronomy by Craig Crossen and Wil Tirion
- The Photographic Atlas of the Stars by H. J. P. Arnold and Patrick Moore (this books is particularly awesome because the dude literally took 35mm color positive film photographs of the sky with a 35mm nikon lens, just goes to show you that high magnification is not the true pursuit of astronomy. not only that, the star maps are literally black-and-white exposures of the positives and are therefore, perfectly aligned and to scale)
The telescope I personally purchased was a Starbase 80 with 80mm aperture and 880mm focal length for about $600. This is kinda overkill, but if you have the cash to spend and you want something that isn't cheap plastic (the entire telescope and mount and tripod are fully metal), I'd recommend this one. It's Made in Japan, so you know it's good :^)
My personal recommendation for telescopes in general, apart from my aforementioned luxury purchase, is to get something that isn't under $200. From my research, no entry level scope that's actually good is sold for less than $200 unless it's just the tube and it's on special or something. At the bare minimum range, I would highly consider the Orion StarBlast 4.5, comes in both tabletop and EQ mount options (for the same price).
I would likewise recommend binoculars from reputable optics manufacturers such as Pentax, Nikon, or Canon. Based on my research, other lesser bino manufacturers fudge their binoc numbers. Oberwerk, despite being a highly rated brand among astronomer community, is particularly egregious. Their 8x52 is actually 8x40 and their 8x40 is actually 8x32.
And finally, the best reason to start with the binocs first is that ALL the good telescopes on online stores are SOLD OUT. They probably won't start coming back in stock until March or April at worst.