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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
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project