January 25th 2009, Glasgow Airport

Pre-flight presentations were held at the Holiday Inn, Glasgow Airport. Nigel Bradbury provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight while Pete Lawrence described the origin of the aurora and gave a forecast for the activity that might be seen during the flight.

Pete had given a 50/50 chance of viewing the aurora for this flight based on the fact that despite previous activity having been low, there was a chance of a boost from an approaching burst of charged particles from a coronal hole on the Sun.

Assessing the potential for the display can be difficult due to the widely fluctuating orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). 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 south during the flight which also assisted the display.

As we headed north the cabin was plunged into darkness and as our eyes started to dark adapt, so the beauty of the 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 fairly bright and showed a good amount of structure which changed quite extensively throughout the observing session.

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 10-20s 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.

Our thanks go to the crew and flight deck on this flight who did everything possible to make the experience very special.

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: GLA5937 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5950 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5958 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5961 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: GLA5966 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5967 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5976 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5987 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA5996 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA6003 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: GLA6011 by Pete Lawrence
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The Flyglobespan crew: Left to right, Malcolm (Captain), Scott, Katy, Geoff (First Officer) and Donna
Image ref: GLA6021 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.