Capture. BackyardEOS and Sharpcap (compatible with many cameras) are the simple alternatives. State of the art capabilities at moderate price are the domain of Sequence Generator Pro, and the new Voyager, which some like better, particularly for autofocus.
Processing. Nebulosity is long in the tooth. Photoshop needs astro specific addons.
I like astro specific programs, particularly these three.
Astro Pixel Processor. Relatively simple, relatively competent. Fine gradient reduction tool, essential for my light polluted skies. Many touch up the output in something like Photoshop. My first recommendation for total beginners, maybe for you. What you learn will largely carry over if you move on to PixInsight.
StarTools. (needs DSS for calibrating and stacking). A unique program that's computer assisted processing. You tell it what to do, it takes care of some details. Quite competent. The best processing program for people who don't like to process, although processing is never simple.
PixInsight. What most (not all) serious people gravitate to these days. Incredibly competent, a vast array of tools and adjustments. But, not designed to be user friendly, and it's often not.
Forget the paltry $250 cost, it's unimportant. The real cost is the time spent learning and using it. I have hundreds of hours in that, routinely take 10-20 hours to process an image. I built a dedicated computer, was tired of staring (that much) at spinning disks.
If you go the PI route, I strongly recommend this book, as better than the websites I tried. It's capable, but not comprehensive. There's only so much you can do with PI in 300 pages. Smiling, but not kidding.
If putting the time in on PI has no appeal, go to one of the two proceeding it. PI's superiority grows larger the more your skill with it improves.
Important point. Data acquisition can use a very simple laptop, like a few hundred dollar one from here. Mostly, you want some USB ports.
Data processing requires horsepower, especially if you get one of the new CMOS cameras (which typically work better with more, shorter subs). As the saying goes in car speed shops. "Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?"
Edited by bobzeq25, 24 March 2019 - 11:16 PM.