A mainstay of spaceflight for more than three decades, NASA’s space shuttles are coming home to stay this year. What options are open to NASA to continue manned spaceflight? Spaceflight Now's Stephen Clark reports from Cape Canaveral. He also reviews the advanced propulsion systems that hold the promise of allowing us to conquer the inner Solar System, and takes a look at forward-thinking plans to journey to another star.
In November 2010 the Deep Impact spacecraft flew past comet Hartley 2, whilst observers on the ground – both professional and amateur – watched from afar. Nick Howes talks to mission team members to find out what was learnt from the fly-by. Meanwhile, ace astrophotographer Nik Szymanek takes the intrepid reader through how to image M42 in both RGB and narrowband, before combining them, and Sir Patrick Moore recounts the story of the little planet that was: Pluto. Neil English examines the performance of refracting telescopes and challenges a few myths and we take a look at the last 12 months of Cassini's exploration around Saturn.
In our regular sections Martin Mobberley tackles making long focal length telescopes more compact, and discusses the venerable alt-az mount in Telescope Talk, while Jeremy Perez details how to sketch Auriga in Drawn to the Universe. Steve Wainwright describes his love of astrovideography and his new Samsung SDC-435 video camera in Gearheads, and In the Shops includes a review of a new 100mm f/11 refractor from Chinese manufacturers Kunming Optical. Our night sky guide includes both imaging and star cluster tours, and our solarwatch and moonwatch columns, and this month's picture gallery hosts your pictures of the recent solar and lunar eclipses.