February 11th 2010, Bournemouth Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held in the departure lounge of Bournemouth International Airport - Omega's first Northern Lights Flight from this airport. Nigel Bradbury provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight. This was followed by a presentation by Pete Lawrence explaining the connection between the Sun and the Aurora.

The activity predictions for tonight were difficult to assess. There was a reasonably good probability of a disturbance in the solar wind caused by recent activity from a large sunspot group and passing coronal holes. However, the vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), known as Bz, had been observed to be northward for much of the day and it was hoped that this state of affairs would change during the flight. If Bz is north, the fields oppose one another and the aurora tends to be quiet.If Bz points south, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect and auroral displays are more likely to occur.

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 acted as the onboard roving astronomer on this occasion, assisting any passengers who weren't sure what was being described.

Looking at the Bz plots after the flight, the field polarity did swing south while we were flying yet strangely the display was rather weak. This was confirmed by the POES polar orbiting satellite which showed a contracted and weak auroral oval for the time we were flying. The consolation that this information provides is that on this occasion at least, the weak display we did get to see was as good as it could have been!

Pete and Paul attempted to photograph the aurora and a number of the images taken on the Bournemouth flight are shown below.


Image ref: S10_9218 by Pete Lawrence
You may download (right click and save as) 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.
Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.




Image ref: S10_9224 by Pete Lawrence
You may download (right click and save as) 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.
Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.




Image ref: S10_9232 by Pete Lawrence
You may download (right click and save as) 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.
Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.