December 10th 2010, Manchester Airport

The pre-flight presentations were held at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Manchester 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 mixed. Activity over the past couple of days had been very low but a burst of charged particles released from a coronal hole at the Sun was due to impinge on the Earth on the 10th/11th December. The the vertical component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), known as Bz, was also rather variable 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 a faint hint of activity present.

The aurora began to pulse in brightness and showed definite horizontal structure (confirmed in the photos below). However, overall, it did tend to remain relatively quiet throughout the flight. Pete and Paul attempted to photograph the aurora and a number of the images taken on the Manchester flight are shown below.


Image ref: W10_1653 by Pete Lawrence
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Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.




Image ref: W10_1659 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: W10_1694 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: W10_1699 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: W10_1730 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.