This is the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023). It is a reflection nebula in Cepheus. The bright star in the center shines light on massive clouds of dust, yielding a blue reflection. Other dust clouds serve to obscure the region and dim the surrounding stars. However, if you look closely you'll notice the clouds have a slight luminous Red tint -- the dust itself emits infrared radiation, and a low level red light enters the visual spectrum.
Isn't science neato?
Anyway, I went back to Atoka last Saturday night armed with a new astro-camera, the QHY8. It uses a 6 megapixel Sony chip (the same as in some Nikons), but it is super cooled to -20C, works at 16 bit, and is tuned to take loooong exposures of faint objects. And the best part is IT WORKS! Man, I'm loving this camera. It is virtually noise free.
So I spent another all night session imaging. There were a bunch of folks up at the site. We ate ribs and stargazed until the sun came up. I met a bunch of cool people. Really a great night.
I'm still processing data. More images are on the way! Next up, a HUGE galaxy... M101! You don't want to miss that do you? Stay tuned...