January 29th 2009, Exeter

The pre-flight presentations were held in the departure lounge of Exeter 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 connection between the Sun and the Aurora.

The activity predictions for tonight were indifferent and a forecast of 50:50 was given. The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field, known as Bz was fluctuating between north and south on this evening, which made auroral display predictions difficult. 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.

During the flight Nigel Bradbury and Pete Lawrence provided an enthusiastic commentary on the stars and constellations while our third astronomer, Paul Money wandered down the cabin giving assistance where needed. The plane used for the flight was an Embraer 195 which usefully has relatively large windows and only two seats either side of the aisle.

The flight deck were extremely helpful on this flight, managing to negotiate a more northerly trip than we would normally have, taking us briefly into Icelandic airspace and allowing us to get closer to the auroral oval.

An initial brightening to the east created an initial air of optimism on board. Various patches of brighter aurorae were spotted along with some small structural enhancements. Sadly, the latter part of the display was rather subdued, but thanks to our extended trip to the north, we did get to see something.

Pete also attempted to photograph the aurora and some of these are shown below. The bottom part of Pete's window had misted over causing a few problems with the shots, as this was where the camera was looking at the sky.

Our thanks go to the Exeter Airport staff, Embraer crew and flight deck 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: EXE6084 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: EXE6089 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: EXE6099 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: EXE6102 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: EXE6109 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose.



Thanks go to our Flybe cabin crew...
Image ref: EXE6113 by Pete Lawrence
You may download this image for any non-commercial purpose.