March 14th 2010, Stansted Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Hilton Hotel, Stansted 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 average. There was a reasonably good probability of a disturbance in the solar wind and the vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), known as Bz, had been south for most of the day. 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 during the flight, the stars looked beautifully crisp and clear. 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.

The aurora was initially seen as a very faint glow on the horizon, resembling a glowing mist. The brightness of the auroral band varied slightly throughout the flight and hinted at faint structure, seen as undulations at the base of the display. Despite these hints, the display failed to become anymore active. A subsequent look at the state of Bz during the flight showed that on this occasion we were unlucky as it turned strongly north at the start of the flight and remained so for most of the night. A brief blip southwards occurred in the early hours and produced a bright display which was seen from the ground.

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


Image ref: S10_STN0555 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_STN0552 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_STN0547 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_STN0545 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.