January 8th 2010, Glasgow Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held in the Hilton Hotel at Edinburgh Airport. 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. Jayne Eames was the Roving Astronomer for this flight. The activity predictions for the night were reasonably promising. The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), known as Bz, had fluctuated between North and South all afternoon but did seem to hover on the south side prior to the flight making a prediction awkward so a 50/50 forecast was given. If Bz points south, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect and auroral displays are more likely to occur. If Bz is north, the fields oppose one another and the aurora tends to be quiet. Nigel Bradbury and Paul Money provided an enthusiastic commentary on what could be seen in terms of the stars, constellations and auroral activity outside the plane. Jayne Eames acted as the onboard astronomical rover on this occasion, assisting any passengers who weren't sure what was being described. Fortunately, on this occasion, Bz did swing south and we did get an auroral display. The initial display was quite detailed with rays and bright patches and undulations along the base of the main band. Towards the end of the on station period the display dimmed but there was still a good amount of structure visible with faint curtains just visible. Paul managed to photograph the aurora on this occasion and a number of the images taken on the flight are shown via this link.

http://www.astrospace.co.uk/omega/N-lights-flts/NLights-pics.html#2010