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

The Essex Jonathan Meades has known all his adult life is grossly at odds with the Essex of popular mythology and hackneyed mediation

The Joy of Essex: In praise of much-maligned ancient county

In recent years, the ancient county has been associated with fake tan and melodrama. In fact, argues Jonathan Meades, it’s one of the most extraordinary parts of Britain

First wintry weather of 2013 set to hit this weekend

Forecasters warn of a a meteorological  “battleground”

Holmes family, Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, Australia

Family took refuge in a lake to escape the Aussie bushfires

As scores of fires continued to burn the length of eastern Australia today, a remarkable survival story emerged from Tasmania, where five young children escaped a blaze that destroyed about 90 properties in their village by sheltering under a boat jetty with their grandparents.

Heatwave goes off scales with record 50C forecast

Australia's record heatwave, which is sparking hundreds of bush fires across the country, has forced meteorologists to redraw temperature scales and introduce new colours to their forecasting maps.

Cooler weather brings respite in Australia - for now

Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled today, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer's extreme heat and fire risk.

A patch of purple, indicating 50+ degrees C, is visible on this temperature chart

Purple alert! Australian heatwave forces climate experts to use new colour to represent extreme temperatures

Australian Bureau of Meteorology adds two entirely new colours – deep purple and pink – to show the new extreme range on its interactive weather maps

Fields just west of RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset

Atlantic storms could bring more heavy rain at the weekend

Weather experts said up to 50mm of rain could fall in some areas

Tsunami fears unfounded after strong earthquake strikes Japan

A strong earthquake struck the same Japanese coast that was devastated by last year's massive quake and tsunami, but despite understandable fears it generated only small waves, with no immediate reports of heavy damage.

A shower of snow covers trees in Bath, Somerset earlier this month

After the wind, rain and floods Britain braces for snow as forecasters predict coldest winter for 100 years

Temperatures are expected to fall dramatically this evening leading to rain in some areas turning to sleet and possibly snow

Lost in the flood: superstorm Sandy's impact on lower Manhattan

A media storm: Why the way we talk about the weather has changed forever

Predicting the weather is no longer a mug’s game - it’s a social one. David Kenny, the king of US weather forecasts talks to Geoffrey Macnab.

Hurricane Sandy churns towards
the eastern US

'Frankenstorm' could wreak $1bn in damage on US east coast

Federal and local authorities, along with utilities across the north-eastern United States, are gearing up for a visit from a Halloween weather monster dubbed the ‘Frankenstorm’ that could inflict $1bn worth of damage as it brings gale-force winds, heavy rain, costal flooding and possibly snow next week.

Take Two! Weather set fair for Felix Baumgartner's fresh attempt at supersonic skydive

Click above to enlarge graphic.

The "extreme athlete" Felix Baumgartner is hopeful that his second attempt at a supersonic skydive over New Mexico can take place on Sunday.

Felix Baumgartner prepares for 23-mile skyfall

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner is preparing to take the leap of his life aiming for the highest, fastest free fall in history.

At least 25 dead following floods in Japan

At least 25 people have died and thousands of others remain cut off by floods and mudslides triggered by torrential rains in southern Japan, officials said.

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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 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before