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Luhman 16B is the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, and the third nearest star system to our solar system

The Lieutenant, By Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville's latest novel, about a young 18th-century English astronomer who is among the first settlers and soldiers to arrive in New South Wales, is historical fiction elevated into the category of "literary fiction", not so much by its research as by its psychological truth. Historical writers know that their readers demand a certain level of information: we want to learn about times different from our own, and it's not so much recognition that we crave in our ancestors as a sense of their difference.

Seeing Further: The Story of Science & The Royal Society, ed Bill Bryson

A celebration of 350 years of our academy of learning

Leading article: Apple turnover

Did Sir Isaac Newton really once see an apple fall from the tree in his Lincolnshire garden and suddenly conceptualise the physics of gravity?

EC awards contract for Europe's answer to GPS

The European Commission yesterday handed three companies a €1bn satellite contract for the Galileo, Europe's version of the Global Positioning System developed in the US.

Galaxy Quest: The search for Britain’s darkest skies

Light pollution has become a modern scourge – and few city-dwellers can identify even a single constellation. Where can we go to enjoy the celestial wonders? Simon Usborne reports from a truly heavenly corner of Britain

Avatar moons may become a science fact

Habitable alien moons like the one depicted in the blockbuster movie Avatar may become science fact within the next few years, according to a leading astronomer.

ET phone Rome: Vatican hosts alien life study

The Vatican has hosted a conference to study the possibility of alien life in the universe and its implication for the Catholic Church.

Victoria Summerley: A mellifluent tone to calm the country

It is perhaps appropriate that the man who transformed his character in The Archers from lusty young farmer to village patriarch, amateur astronomer, keen cook and pantomime musical director, should himself be something of a Renaissance man.

Nasa peers back into the 'cosmic dark ages'

A massive gamma-ray burst 13 billion light years away has thrown new light on the early years of the Universe

Nasa discovers huge ring of ice orbiting Saturn

A giant ring so faint it is all but invisible to conventional light telescopes has been discovered around Saturn by the infra-red imaging instruments on board Nasa's Spitzer space telescope.

Saturn's supersized ring uncovered

The faint ring extends more than seven million miles from the planet.

Seti: The hunt for ET

Scientists have been searching for aliens for 50 years, scanning the skies with an ever-more sophisticated array of radio telescopes and computers. Known as Seti, the search marks its half-century this month. Jennifer Armstrong and Andrew Johnson examine its close – and not so close – encounters

Cosmic cannibalising: Images show one galaxy engulfing another

As cosmic events go, this one is hard to beat. Scientists have built up a dramatic time-lapse picture of one galaxy swallowing up another in a cannabilistic act that takes place over a period of three billion years – about as long as it took for slime-like earthlings to evolve into humans.

Galileo's Dream, By Kim Stanley Robinson

The science of altering the past

The Soldier's War, By Richard van Emden

How much more vivid is this account of the Great War from letters and diaries than any orthodox history. The reports from Tommies and officers range from the baffling spectacle of sudden attack at the outbreak of war ("my men started curling up on the ground") and class subservience under fire ("I avenged Mr Davidson and felt pleased") to the vindictive quashing of the second Christmas truce of 1915.

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On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
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filmSo what makes the little man tick?
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Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week