March 9th 2008, Newcastle

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Brittania Hotel close to Newcastle Airport. Nigel Bradbury provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight whilst Paul Money explained the connections between the Sun and the Aurora.

There was plenty of activity coming from the Sun to produce an aurora but once again a forecast was difficult as the vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), Bz, was fluctuating between north and south. If Bz is south, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect to produce auroral displays. If north, the fields oppose one another and the aurora is quiet.

Almost once the cabin was placed into darkness it was apparent there was a bright display underway with plenty of detail and the passengers were not disappointed. During the flight Nigel Bradbury provided most of the commentary on the stars, constellations and auroral activity visible outside the plane windows while Paul Money provided some commentary and attempted to photograph the Aurora for the passengers and some of the best of these images are shown below.

With a bright general band across the northern sky the aurora had bright patches pulsing and other patches developed with rays extending high into the night sky with their bases curling back on themselves before fading then reappearing. A pretty good display which the images barely do justice!


Image: Paul Money


Image: Paul Money


Image: Paul Money


Image: Paul Money