November 2nd 2008, Norwich - early flight

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

Pete had to give a 40/60 chance of viewing the aurora for the first flight. Assessing the potential for the display can be 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 hence the forecast.

This particular flight unfortunately confirmed the prediction of a poor Aurora although it should be noted that it could just be seen as a dim glow along the northern horizon so there was at least something visible. On the out bound leg passengers on the port (left) side were also treated to the setting crescent moon glowing luminous orange and the planet Jupiter to its upper left even though the cabin lights were still illuminated.

During the flight Paul Money and Dave Cook provided an enthusiastic commentary on the stars, constellations and auroral activity visible outside the plane windows despite their windows partially hazing over along with several other windows down the plane. Paul also attempted to photograph the aurora despite its faintness and one image was successfully taken and is shown below.

Image: Paul Money