Philip has put a lot of effort into improving the visual effects in SR2. This past week, he worked on the sun and I couldn't wait to get his changes so I could do some in-game photography.
He also improved the atmospheric effects significantly over the past few weeks. The shader he's been working on is based on real-world physics and uses parameters like atmospheric density to realistically render the effects.
All of the atmosphere's parameters are available via XML if you want to get your hands dirty and customize its look. It does take some skill, as some of these settings are particularly sensitive.
Or, you can just wait until we release the planet builder. Did we mention that we intend to make a planet builder? Well, we do. It's one of the major features that we will focus on after the Early Access release. There will be a new section on the website where players will be able to upload their custom planets and download other player's planets.
So, we haven't talked about our release date for a while. The last date we mentioned was Q2, but if you've paid attention, I've started saying "this summer." Realistically, I don't see any chance of SR2 entering Early Access before July. I'm hesitant to even pick a month at this point, because I've been so wrong in the past. Sorry we keep slipping. We are working as hard as we can and trying to make this game as good as we can for the initial release. I promise it will be worth your wait!