March 24th 2009, Leeds

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Benton Park School, Leeds where Nigel Bradbury provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight while 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, had been flipping north and south throughout the day and its orientation during the flight would ultimately affect what we would see. 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. On the northward leg of the flight it soon became clear that the aurora was going to put on a show. At the front of the plane there were bright, highly structured regions of aurorae visible.

A number of orbits were made to give both sides of the plane a chance to see what was happening outside. True to form, the aurora teased us with brightenings and rays visible for some of the time and a rather more quiescent band at others. A fantastic Jet2 crew really made this flight a delight.

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: LBA8352 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: LBA8356 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: LBA8357 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: LBA8360 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: LBA8363 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: LBA8377 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: LBA8472 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.