January 28th 2011, Stansted Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Hilton Hotel, Stansted Airport. Paul Money provided a 30 minute talk on the stars and constellations that would be visible during the flight. Pete Lawrence, then followed on to explain the connection between the Sun and the Aurora.

The activity predictions for tonight were not that favourable with low activity on the Sun and a north pointing Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). If Bz points north the aurora tends to be quiet. If Bz points south, the IMF and Earth's magnetic field can connect and more impressive auroral displays are likely to be seen.

As usual, the stars looked beautifully crisp and clear and during the flight. Paul Money and Pete Lawrence 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.

As we approached station, there was a hint of activity present.

After an initially rather quiet start, the aurora did start to brighten and show hints of structure. As the flight progressed, so various bright patches appeared within more of the auroral band. Additional structure was also seen and this resulted in a number of well defined rays. All in all a nice display of the aurora!

This flight had been delayed by an hour due to unforeseen circumstances and this undoubtedly led to us getting a better view of the aurora than we would otherwise have had. The aurora continued to remain visible during much of the flight back when the cabin was dark. Pete and Paul attempted to photograph the aurora and a number of the images taken on the Stansted flight are shown below.


Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3902 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3905 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3936 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3942 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3947 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3952 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3958 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3960 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3967 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3979 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3981 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3985 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3986 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3989 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3990 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3996 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_3998 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_4020 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_4024 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_4026 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_4085 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_4088 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: S11_STN_20110128_4108 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.
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