November 20th 2009, Gatwick Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Hilton Hotel, 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 looking promising with plenty of activity from the Sun and a good land based aurora being seen the previous night (when we were not flying!). The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), known as Bz had been fluctuating all 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 tends to be quiet.

As usual, the stars looked beautifully crisp and clear and during the flight Nigel Bradbury and Pete Lawrence provided an enthusiastic commentary on what could be seen in terms of the stars, constellations and auroral activity outside the plane. Paul Money wandered down the aisle assisting passengers and answering any questions. Auroral activity was present on the northern horizon during the flight but unfortunately, a significant display was not seen. The auroral oval appeared to have shrunk back towards the pole during our trip and consequently the oval looked fairly small. Pete attempted to photograph the aurora and a number of the images taken on the Gatwick flight are shown below.




Image ref: W09_7151 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: W09_7152 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: W09_7153 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: W09_7156 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: W09_7157 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: W09_7158 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: W09_7160 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.



Edinburgh in the distance. Image ref: W09_7161 by Pete Lawrence