November 4th 2010, London Gatwick Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Gatwick Hilton Hotel, Gatwick Airport. Nigel Bradbury 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 less assured than the previous night. The vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), known as Bz, was difficult to predict just before the flight. 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. 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.

As we approached station, there was little hint of any activity - just a faint glow on the horizon.

After an initially rather quiet start, the aurora did show some activity. Brighter pulses and subtle ray structures were seen but the auroral oval on this occasion had receded and the detail was quite distant. Having said this, there was plenty of interest to be seen during the flight. Pete and Paul attempted to photograph the aurora and a number of the images taken on the Gatwick flight are shown below.


Image ref: W10_0985 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_0989 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_0992 by Pete Lawrence
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Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.




Image ref: W10_1007 by Pete Lawrence
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Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.




Image ref: W10_1009 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_1011 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_1013 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_1015 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_1017 by Pete Lawrence
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Image ref: W10_1020 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.