Why do the stars shine? What messages can we read in the light they send to us from the depths of the night? Nuclear astrophysics is a fascinating discipline, and enables connections to be made between atoms, stars, and human beings. Through modern astronomy, scientists have managed to unravel the full history of the chemical elements, and understand how they originated and evolved into all the elements that compose our surroundings today. The transformation of metals into gold, something once dreamed of by alchemists, is a process commonly occurring in the cores of massive stars. But the most exciting revelation is the intimate connection that humanity itself has with the debris of exploded stars. This engaging account of nucleosynthesis in stars, and the associated chemical evolution of the Universe, is suitable for the general reader.