February 14th 2010, Cardiff Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held in the main lobby of Cardiff International Airport. Nigel Bradbury provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight and this was followed by Pete Lawrence explaining the connection between the Sun and the Aurora.

The activity predictions for tonight were difficult to assess being similar to the previous flight. On that occasion, despite there being plenty of activity from the Sun, the auroral oval on the 12th February had shrunk back close to the northern magnetic pole and little was seen.

Tonight, there was uncertainty over the vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF)Bz which had been seen to have swung north just before the flight took off. If Bz is north the aurora tends to be quiet. If Bz points south however, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect and more active auroral displays are likely to be seen.

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 astronomical rover on this occasion, assisting any passengers who weren't sure what was being described.

Fortunately, uncertainty over activity proved to be unfounded and as we approached station, the beautiful glow of the Aurora Borealis was very easy to see and as the plane turned, a great deal of slowly moving structure was seen. Overall, this was an excellent display of the Northern Lights. This flight from Cardiff was the replacement for one that was due up on January 14th 2010 but had to be cancelled due to fog.

Photographs of the aurora that were taken do show lots of activity and structure.

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


Image ref: S10_9326 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_9332 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_9334 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_9359 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_9365 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_9367 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.