November 2nd 2008, Norwich - late flight

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Holiday Inn Hotel close to the Airport. Nigel Bradbury 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 Bz flipped between the two making predictions difficult hence the forecast.

As we headed north the cabin was plunged into darkness and as our eyes started to dark adapt, so the beauty of the later autumn night sky began to reveal itself to us. As we approached station, Pete took a number of test shots and the tell-tale colour of green was revealed. On station, the auroral arc was very evident but initially very quiet. Eventually, brighter knots were seen as well as an extension to the arc towards the plane. The arc was seen to pulse in brightness with the whole 'structure' dimming and brightening as one. Finally, a few faint rays were also seen. Initial photographs showed a strong red component above the main arc which is indicative of a weak display. Consequently, and in consideration of the weak display seen by the earlier flight, the 40/60 prediction was deemed to be pretty accurate.

During the flight Pete Lawrence and Nigel Bradbury provided an enthusiastic commentary on the stars, constellations and auroral activity visible outside the plane windows. Pete also attempted to photograph the aurora and the best images are shown below. Exposure times were in the order of 20s which, coupled with the fact that the camera had to be hand-held against the cabin window, explains the slight distortions visible in the stars.

Please feel free to download and use the images for any purpose you like as long as it's of a non-commercial nature. If you would like to purchase a souvenir 10"x8" photographic print of any of these photographs, please click on the link provided. Secure payment is made via PayPal but you don't need a PayPal account to purchase, just a credit or debit card. Delays may occur if you order during a busy flight sequence so please allow up to 28-days for delivery.


Image ref: 5461 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 10"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: 5462 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 10"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: 5468 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 10"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: 5469 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 10"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.