No amateur astronomer in the British Isles could have failed to noticed that the UK is a cloudy place. We learn to make the most of the breaks in the cloud and totally clear nights are highly valued. This month's Focus first takes a look at monitoring the weather and understanding how and when clouds form, highlighting wonderful phenomena such as haloes, sundogs, sun pillars, rainbows and noctilucent clouds, which all provide interesting sights in the sky. Then we take a look at how pressure systems and masses of cold and warm air dictate Earth's weather, before heading off around the Solar System to discover that storms rage on the gas giants and Saturn has a swirling vortex, Titan has methane rain, and Mars even has snow!
Have you been contemplating CCD-imaging, or looking to change your camera? Olly Penrice of Les Granges Astronomy Holidays puts one-shot colour cameras up against monochromatic cameras to see which is best, and comes up with some surprising results! Elsewhere David Ratledge takes us on a tour of asterisms – unofficial groupings of stars –that have earned nicknames from The Coathanger and Kemble's Cascade to Stargate and the Diamond Ring. See how many you can spot!
We also have an extensive news roundup from an exciting week at the National Astronomy Meeting back in April (as well as our regular news section), and a spectacular new image from the Hubble Space Telescope to explore. In our regular slots, Jeremy Perez relates how to safely sketch sunspots, Carole Stott introduces planetary nebula, Martin Mobberley tackles how to combat the smearing effect of a planet's rotation when trying to image it, and Callum Potter gives some guidance on hosting a star party. We also present our extensive night sky section, which this month includes sky tours of summer sights for small telescopes, and the objects hidden within Scorpius' sting, plus a look at the potential of observing Comet McNaught. Plus an extensive review of the Orion SkyQuest XX12 Intelliscope as well as another great batch of Astroloot bounty and book reviews.