Pre-flight presentations took place at the Britannia Hotel adjacent to Newcastle Airport where an introductory talk on the constellations was given by Nigel Bradbury and an explanation of the aurora by Pete Lawrence.
Forecasts looked bleak despite good activity at the end of October and the prospect of an enhancement from the 8th November onwards. A forecast of 50:50 was given stating that the aurora can be rather fickle and difficult to predict at such times. Indeed this was the case and the display as seen was brighter than expected and showed some transient structures that were easily visible from the plane. The stars were breathtaking (as always) with the bonus of several bright meteors streaking across the sky, possibly connected with the Taurid meteor shower that peaks around this time of year. In addition, the planet Mars appeared brilliant in the east as a bright salmon-pink ‘star’.
Checking the auroral activity logs the next day it appears that the display occurred with a POES satellite activity index of 1-3. We normally prefer the activity to be around the 5-6 mark for a good display so once again the flight of the 6th November had proven just how difficult this phenomenon is to predict.
Photographs were taken but plane movement meant that it was difficult to hold sharpness over the length of the exposures required (10-20s).