Astronomers are now beginning to understand better how open star clusters form, evolve and eventually disperse. But there are still some questions surrounding those dense balls of stars, globular clusters. Do they possess black holes, and where do they come from? Studying their stars will provide the answer. We also explore the super-size clusters, and find that the most massive stars group together in these giant conglomerations.
Relive memories of AstroFest 2011 this month, which was one of the biggest and best yet. Perhaps you can spot yourself in one of the photographs, or if you didn't attend this year, find out what you missed and perhaps tempt yourself into attending in 2012!
Is Jupiter a friend or foe? The giant planet has been hailed in the past as Earth's protector, sweeping up comets that might otherwise crash into our planet. But Barrie Jones and Jonti Horner have discovered that Jupiter isn't as benevolent as we had thought. Sticking with the giant planets, but moving to Saturn, Keith Cooper explores the origin of the planet's majestic rings, reporting on both sides of the argument: that either they are extremely ancient, or formed within the last few hundred million years. In our night sky section, Paul Abel explains how to go storm hunting on the ringed planet, too. And in another feature, Emily Baldwin describes the excitement of Stardust-NExT's flyby of Comet Tempel-1, to see the effects of the comet's journey around the Sun, as well as the results of the Deep Impact mission, which flung a probe into the comet's icy surface nearly six years ago.
All that plus our usual regular sections, including a roundup of your "stargazing live" events from around the country in Grassroots Astronomy, all you need to know to observe Saturn as it reaches opposition this month, and a competition to win The Universe: 7 wonders of the Solar System, on 3D DVD!