Stargazing Buying beginner telescope

Hello everyone. Giant astronomy newb here. Some background:

My sons 5th birthday was a few weeks ago and I told my wife I wanted to get him a telescope about a week or so before. I did some research and basically got the "dont buy at a department store" message. My wife however was out and about and grabbed one and I was too busy and too overwhelmed by the choices to pick one so I stuck with it.

I have never looked through a telescope before but we took it out that night and pointed it at the brightest thing in the western sky which is about the only direction I can look from my yard. I saw a ball with 4 little lights aligned with it straight up and down. But I could not get past the 20mm eyepiece and still see it. I went inside and googled it to find out what it was and it was Jupiter. It was pretty cool to actually look up there and see it for the first time. But long story short, the telescope went back because it was crap (too shakey, too hard to make fine adjustments).

I then looked around online and found what looked like a good deal at Telescopes.com on a Meade 2114 GoTo model for only $149 ( http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/reflecting-telescopes/meadetelestards2114atstcgototelescope.cfm). I ordered that but it is still on back order. After reading some bad things about Meade, I am wondering if I should cancel and get a different one.

I really need to stay about $150 if I can, but they have a couple of deals on some Celestrons in that range ( http://www.telescopes.com/best-sellers/8197+13.cfm ). I am looking for something that can see the planets and some nebulae if possible.

Any suggestions?
 

Chronos

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Celestron is always a safe bet, good product and reliable. You should be able to get a serviceable preowned catadioptic in your price range. I like cats because they are extremely portable and easy to set up. The image is only average, but, the utility is outstanding. That is the most important feature of any scope you might be considering.
 
Thanks for the links chemisttree. I had seen those before but they are so odd looking. He won't be using it by himself at all, more of something we can do together, but this might work either way.
 
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chemisttree

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They work great. They are just right for kids since they are designed to be used on a table or on the ground and positioning is performed by nudging the scope... very intuitive. The mount is almost vibration free and it never vibrates in the wind. It has ~4" of aperture so objects are fairly bright. It is a wide field scope that gives great big views of the sky. The moon is fantastic using the 15 mm eyepiece and you can easily see bands on Jupiter and rings on saturn. Brighter nebula are visible and open clusters as well. Setup is a snap. Place the metal base on a flat surface and plop the round end of the scope on it. Aim and focus. My 8yr old and 5yr old both use the one I have and love it. It distracts them from my pricer apo...

The Meade 80 mm ETX that you linked to is a good scope. My 5 yr old wouldn't be able to use it though.
 
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Chronos

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Parallel thinking, chemisttree. User friendly is the most important feature in a beginner scope. The kids will enjoy a reasonable aperature that is easy to use. But do not presume your younguns will indefinitely resist the twitch to give your big scope a twirl.
 
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chemisttree

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