March 23rd 2009, Doncaster

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster. 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.

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. A weak auroral display was seen during the main part of the event. Our captain managed to negotiate a more northerly station position, 62 degrees north for this flight which gave us a better view of the weak display at the expense of the orbit times - true aurora chasing!

On the way home the aurora brightened and started to exhibit structure. Again, thanks to our excellent crew on this occasion, an arrangement was made for a last minute orbit to allow both sides of the aircraft a view of the now, fairly bright aurora.

A number of photos were taken of the display and these are presented below. The short final orbit kept the photographic exposures shorter than normal but even so, a good indication of the level of activity that had sprung up can be seen.

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: DON8294 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: DON8295 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.