In the age of the Hubble Space Telescope, and ever larger earthbound scopes being build, many people are of the impression that one needs costly equipment to enjoy the night skies.
Nothing is further from the truth. Reality, however, is that occasions at which one can observe the stars and planets are sparse due to urban light pollution. Tommaso has blogged about this issue before (see: The Continuing Search For A Dark Site).
Those who have never seen the Milky Way with their own eyes, have a look at attached video. I think this comes as close as one can get to the real experience. No telescope was used. This timelapse shoot was taken by William Castleman with a normal camera with a fisheye lens to ensure coverage of (almost) the full sky.
Do not try this in your urban backyard: you need a really dark spot.