There are enough tools in the kit now that we can start to get a little creative. By taking the tessellated fractal sphere and coloring it in a different fashion, then setting its planet to emit light, have a glowing emissive surface, and have a large halo, we can create a sort of a protostar thingy as in the picture. I can picture some interesting ways the protostar could be animated (for example, overlaying two fractal spheres on top of each other, with one rotating at a different rate, to create mutating gas clouds on the surface; also, applying a sine wave to the halo size) but until the application runs faster generally there's not that much point in digging into animation. I've managed to shave off some milliseconds in a few places with straightforward optimizations but there's still a lot more that would have to be done.
As you can see from the second image, the biggest flaw in the planet now is that since surface normals are calculated on a per-triangle basis, triangles are very obvious when you approach close enough to the illuminated side of the planet. There ought to be a way around this, and indeed, there is -- we should be able to interpolate the normals between triangles, which means the normals will change smoothly as we travel over the terrain, eliminating the visible triangles. However, that will require me to rearrange the data structures to keep track of connections between adjacent triangles, something I deliberately backed out of earlier because it's a distinctly complex task. There's probably no way around it, though.