November 25th 2008, Birmingham International Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Windmill Hotel Coventry. 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.

Paul had given 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. Even so, expectations were reasonable due to a fast and energetic enhancement to the solar wind due to a large coronal hole on the Sun.

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 Lawrence took a number of test shots which revealed a distinctive green band topped with a reddish glow. On station the aurora appeared like a quiescent glow at first probably due to a northern Bz. However, as the flight progressed, the auroral became more active and many strutural features were seen. 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. On this occasion, the windows at the front of the plane became heavaily frosted over making it difficult to photograph the view outside. 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: BHX4109 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: BHX4112 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: BHX4125 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: BHX4127 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: BHX4129 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: BHX4148 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.