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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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried