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.