March 22nd 2009, Gatwick

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Gatwick Hilton Hotel adjacent to Gatwick 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 connections between the Sun and the Aurora.

The activity predictions for tonight were difficult to forecast and a probability of 50:50 was given. Other online forecasts had given low chances of a display but a heightened solar wind speed made it difficult to call. The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field, known as Bz, was north during the presentation, which was not ideal for an auroral display. 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. The greatest unknown was whether Bz would swing south during the flight.

During the flight Nigel Bradbury and Pete Lawrence provided an enthusiastic commentary on the stars and constellations while Paul Money acted as the roving astronomer, wandering up and down the plane answering any questions that came his way. The aurora was spotted on this occasion. Although it showed little in the way of structure or movement it did display a fairly bright arc.

A number of photos were taken of the display and these are presented below. 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: LGW8246 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: LGW8249 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: LGW8257 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.