People: You won't dissolve my baby, will you?

"YOUR hands look quite elegant," says Kate Dineen to her sister Molly. "Mine are complete mallets."

People: Lynda sifts the evidence

It was raining the morning I went to meet Lynda La Plante. It was heavy, remorseless rain, the kind of rain that in a La Plante mini- series usually heralds bad news of one kind or another. It was raining like this when a murder victim's head was discovered in the first ever Prime Suspect. And the rain will be pouring down again next Sunday evening as the police hunt for a missing child in La Plante's latest four-hour two-parter, Trial and Retribution.

Brighter than 10 million suns

The star at the centre of this picture is brighter than 10 million Suns, and so big that if it were at the centre of our solar system it would swallow the Earth. Yet it has taken the power of the Hubble Space Telescope to produce this detailed image of the "Pistol Star", which lies about 25,000 light-years away from Earth, towards the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The Sky at Night

Saturn is presently located in the dim and difficult constellation of Pisces, far outshining any of it stars. On the night of the 21st/22nd, the waning gibbous Moon, following its eastward track in the sky, skims past Saturn missing the planet by a whisker. The pair rise at about 9.45pm BST that evening though it will be around midnight before they are high enough above the east-south-east horizon to be easily visible. Over the course of the rdght, the Moon gradually edges its way below Saturn, closing the gap until there is only half a degree between them at 3.45am. After that they pull apart again. This fine celestial alignment is a foretaste of the encounter to come in the early hours of 12 November, when the Moon will occult Saturn completely for about an hour.

A body worth a fortune

Simply divine, says William Hartston as he explores the lost arts of fortune-telling from bodies, beasts and other balderdash

the stars : Twilight zone

Although the sky is never truly dark in summer, now is the time to spot the beautiful and elusive noctilucent clouds.

UFOs, ghosts, crop circles: sceptics fight back

Fifty years ago, an American pilot spotted flying saucers. Now gullibility seems to have taken over. Roger Dobson talks to some doubters

Six new stars are born amid gas and dust

The right-hand frame here contains not one star, but seven - though the dimmer six are all the offspring of the larger, central one. New pictures from the Hubble space telescope, using its infrared camera, have provided scientists with direct evidence that huge stars can throw off enough dust and gas to create "baby" stars, visible here as the six fainter dots in the picture.

Cheer up, it's National Eternal Verities Day

In this age of change, as we sweep towards the 21st century and a world of Internet and computers, and away from the simple verities of the 20th century like world wars and genocide, I find that many people feel they have nothing safe and sure left to hold on to.

Election '97: It's in the stars ... Major faces a cosmic meltdown

John Major may as well stay in bed today. It's not just the pollsters who are predicting a disaster, he also faces a cosmic meltdown. The Prime Minister could not have chosen a worse time to call the election, according to the astrologers. He has played right into Tony Blair's Venus ascendant. Unless the stars are wrong, it will be a Labour government leading Britain into the new millenium. Paddy Ashdown cannot expect much immediate change from today. But for him things can only get better. He may yet find himself part of a Lib-Lab coalition, because although the stars are favouring Mr Blair at the moment, he may have problems with his backbenchers in the future.

Science: The Stats - The illusion of the ecliptic

As comet Hale-Bopp fades from view, Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest explain why our solar system is in the shape of a disc with the Sun at its centre

Jump clear of the market when Mars enters Libra

pounds 10bn worth of investment funds are influenced by astrology

Sorry, John: there's no solace in the stars

No prizes for guessing what John Major will be wishing for when he blows out his 54 candles at his birthday tea today. Election victory is not, however, written in his stars. It is, say astrologers, more a case of New Moon, New Labour.

LETTER : Bad astrology

With reference to Iain Sharp's letter (2 March), it is not the reputation of astrology that is at issue but merely that of the astrologer who made the predictions referred to. Astrology has good and bad practitioners and should not be judged by those foolish enough to make such predictions in public.

Big guys vs Hale-Bopp

A comet is about to take on the superheroes, report Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Life and Style
fashionA new dress to enrage the internet...
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own