February 23rd 2011, Bournemouth Airport

The pre-flight presentations for tonight's flight were held in the departure lounge of Bournemouth Airport. After an introduction from Omega's Peter Truman, Nigel Bradbury proceeded in giving a presentation on the stars and constellations which would be visible during the flight. This was then followed by Pete Lawrence with a talk on the Northern Lights themselves. A forecast was given at the end of Pete's talk.

After quite a run of some quite active space weather, the conditions which trigger the aurora had subsided somewhat. There was some hope that the output from a couple of large holes in the Sun's corona would cause an enhanced display this evening.

As we flew closer to the auroral oval in a superbly dark cabin, it was clear that there wasn't much happening. The characteristic glow from the upper red region of the aurora was visible and this showed a sharp lower edge. This is the silhoutetted edge of the Earth indicating that the oval was not far enough south to appear lifted above the curvature of the planet.

After a chat with the flight deck, a decision was made to try for a location further north and therefore closer to the oval. The flight deck also managed to get us up to 38,000ft on this occasion giving us the best possible chance of seeing whatever was there. Unfortunately, this time round, this turned out to be very little apart from a gentle glow on the horizon.

Looking at the activity plots for Feb 23rd into Feb 24th it turns out that we got the best of this night's display as we were heading north on the outward leg of the journey. It then appeared that the oval shrunk back to a very weak state indeed living up to its nickname as the "Tricky Lady".

Pete and Nigel gave a running commentary throughout the flight on what stars, constellations and planets could be seen outside the aircraft and as usual, these were quite stunning, especially the region around Orion the Hunter. Paul Money and Denise Pritchard were the roving astronomers on tonight's flight, helping passengers as they wandered down the aircraft. Pete tried to get some photographs of the aurora and the best of these are shown below. Please note that the extreme settings used on the camera may lead to some variation between the screen image and physical photographic print.


Image ref: S11_BOH_20110223_6283 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: S11_BOH_20110223_6291 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: S11_BOH_20110223_6305 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: S11_BOH_20110223_6321 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: S11_BOH_20110223_6379 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.