The Iris Nebula, or NGC 7023. This nebula is one of my favorites. It’s a reflection nebula, meaning that what we are seeing is actually light behind the nebula bouncing off dust in it and reaching our eyes.
This dust is really interesting both scientifically and photographically. Scientifically we’re not actually sure what the dust is compromised of. The current best guess is that it’s hydrocarbons. In fact, even though they’re called fossil fuels on earth, the galaxy makes a whole lot of them. In fact it’s thought that titian has more oil than earth, even though it doesn’t have any fossils (that we know of!)
Photographically it’s really interesting because normally I’d pull the colors in the background down to show more contrast in the nebula, but so much of what makes this nebula cool is the dark dust veins blocking the stars behind. It’s a really cool look, but exposes some of the sausage making of editing this images in the background.