November 24th 2008, East Midlands

The pre-flight presentations were held within the airport departure lounge. 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 50/50 chance of viewing the aurora for this 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. Bz was fluctuating between north and south on this occasion with long periods at each value. This made final 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 early winter night sky began to reveal itself to us. As we approached station, Pete took a number of test shots which revealed a distinctive reddish glow which is indicative of a weak display. On this flight we managed to get up to 61 degrees north. On station the aurora appeared like a quiescent glow and showed signs that it was trying to brighten below the Keystone asterism in Hercules the Strongman. However, with a suspected northern Bz, the display remained fairly inactive on this occasion. During the flight Pete Lawrence and Nigel Bradbury provided an enthusiastic commentary on the stars, constellations and auroral activity visible outside the plane windows while Paul Money roamed down the plane to check on passengers and provide help where needed. 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 12"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: EMA3933 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 12"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: EMA4069 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 12"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: EMA4077 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 12"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: EMA4081 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 12"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.



Image ref: EMA3953 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose. If you'd like a 12"x8" photographic print of it (7.00+ p&p) please click the button below.