I've always liked the idea of getting a telescope. I love looking at the stars, and they feel like something a science fiction writer should have. The reality of owning one actually far succeeded my expectations. For one thing, it was much easier to use than I'd expected. With a laser to guide us, we easily found some awe-inspiring sites, including the Orion Nebula and the Pleiades star cluster. We could see Jupiter's bands, as well as its four major moons (Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto).
For anyone who's interested, the telescope we got is a Meade Lightbridge Mini 130. It's a lovely piece of equipment, very easy to set up and use even for beginners. We used the book Nightwatch and a phone app to orient ourselves in the sky at first, and it became easier to recognize constellations as we worked. I had read a bit of the National Geographic's Guide to the Night Sky to help get me started as well.