If 'arrangements go through with Steam', Starbound's first beta will be available around December 4th. I've opened a can of fizz in celebration of the fact because Starbound's procedural planets and penguins look splendid, and December 4th isn't much more than a week away. Instead of counting down the days until Christmas, I'm going to start counting the days until Starbound, even if it might not be quite as punctual as Daddy Jesus Claus.
For more information about the probable status of the beta, which may be the first of several releases, check out Nathan's post here. For more of what to expect from the game, read the updates. Any of them. They speak of wonderful things, including newly added random events, morphball tech and castles, like the one in the picture above.
There's also a tree supported by "a couple of springy plants", created by the latest terrain generation code. This is the kind of thing I hope to discover during my journeys in space.