March 20th 2009, Manchester

Pre-flight presentations were held at the Woodford Community Hall, Woodford, Stockport. Veteran Northern Lights Astronomer 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. After the talks coaches took the passengers to the airport for the flight.

The activity predictions for that night were difficult to tie down and a forecast of 50:50 was given. The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field, known as Bz was strongly North during the day. 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 Paul and Nigel provided a regular commentary on the stars and constellations visible. The aurora was a reasonable display with some occasional ray activity appearing briefly before subsiding showing how quick the display can change. Surprisingly it later transpired that the Bz stayed North during the flight but this just goes to show how difficult it can be to try to forecast what the aurora will get up to even just a few hours into the future.

The plane was very dark due to the hard work and co-operation of the flight deck and cabin crew which was much appreciated. Paul managed to get a few photo's of the display in between doing commentary and these are shown below.


Image ref:NL-Man-200309-1 by Paul Money
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Image ref:NL-Man-200309-2 by Paul Money
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Image ref:NL-Man-200309-3 by Paul Money
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Image ref: NL-Man-cntre-200309 by Paul Money
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