October 26th 2008, Liverpool

The pre-flight presentations were held at the the Crowne Plaza South (formerly Marriott) John Lennon 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 despite technical glitches in the presentation equipment.

Assessing the potential for the display proved difficult due to the widely fluctuating orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field. The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field is known as Bz and if Bz points south, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect and auroral displays are likely to occur. If Bz is north, the fields oppose one another and the aurora is quiet. All day the BZ flipped between the two making predictions difficult so a 50/50 forecast was made.

Within minutes of the cabin going dark however, Nigel could clearly see an aurora display underway much to everyone's approval. During the flight Nigel Bradbury and Paul Money provided an enthusiastic commentary on the stars, constellations and auroral activity visible outside the plane windows. Paul also attempted to photograph the aurora and a small number were successfully taken and some of these images are shown below.

On this occasion the display was actually a lot brighter than had been expected. We were also lucky enough to have some subtle detail occur although towards the end of our holding pattern the aurora did begin to subside so we timed it just right.


Image: Paul Money


Image: Paul Money