March 27th 2009, East Midlands Airport

Pre-flight presentations were held in the departure lounge at East Midlands Airport. Nigel Bradbury provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight while Paul Money described the origin of the aurora and gave a forecast for the activity that might be seen during the flight.

Paul had given a 50/50 chance of viewing the aurora for this flight based on the fact that there was uncertainty over the orientation of the vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field, known as Bz. The solar wind and proton density was reasonably high on this occasion but if Bz points north the auroral display could be muted. If it points north, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect and auroral displays are likely to occur. In the event it looks as if we experienced a brief southerly Bz before the main field turned north once again.

As we headed north the cabin was plunged into darkness and as our eyes started to dark adapt, so the beauty of the winter night sky began to reveal itself to us. Pete Lawrence and Nigel Bradbury provided an enthusiastic commentary describing the stars visible in the sky. The flight deck reported a brightening display so the decision was taken to put the plane on station - as it turned out a wise move given the brevity of the southerly Bz window we had encountered.

As we approached station, Pete Lawrence took a number of test shots which revealed a distinctive green band topped with a reddish and purple glow. On station the aurora appeared bright and showed a good amount of structure which changed quite extensively throughout the viewing period. The movement and forms within this display were very noticeable.

During the flight Paul Money wandered down the cabin to assist passengers. Pete and Paul also attempted to photograph the aurora and the best images are shown below. Exposure times were in the order of 10-20s which, coupled with the fact that the camera had to be hand-held against the cabin window, explains the slight distortions visible in the stars.

Our thanks go to the cabin crew and flight deck on this flight who did everything possible to make this, our last flight of the season, 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: EMA8593 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: EMA8596 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: EMA8597 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: EMA8599 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: EMA8607 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: EMA8608 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: EMA8609 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: EMA8612 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: EMA8613 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: EMA8614 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: EMA8622 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: EMA8632 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: EMA8633 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: EMA8634 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: EMA8638 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: EMA8639 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: EMA8642 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: EMA8648 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: EMA8651 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: EMA8652 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.