Friday, 16 November 2012

Northern Lights Flight

Last night I went on a "northern lights" flight.

The plane departed East Midlands Airport and essentially headed north for an hour.

It then circled for about an hour, offering views of the stars and aurora.

The pilot then turned around and came home.

Huge thanks to Pete Lawrence - an onboard astronomer and Deep Sky Videos regular - for making the trip possible.

And which put on the flights.

Below are a few of my hand-held shots through the window - very amateurish.

A video about the trip will be coming soon. And I've included a few more thoughts below the pictures.

I realise my pictures are poor - I'll post some better ones from Pete very soon.

The flight was an unusual experience.

All cabin lights are switched off (even the no-smoking signs and wing lights) so everyone's eyes could adapt to the dark.

It was a funny atmosphere on the plane as everyone rotated to share window seats. The aisle was always bustling with bodies, like a giant game of Twister in the dark!

And the onboard astronomers excitedly commentated on the intercom throughout, describing the stars and aurora.

To be honest, our light show was below par. The space weather was not spectacular.

And I must say the northern lights didn't look to the human eye as they did in the photos.

It is more like a white-ish light haze caused by some distant city - but with more definition and shape to it.

The green and red colours were not obvious until seeing the long-exposure pictures.

But the excited and enthusiastic atmosphere on the flight added something special and the trip was worthwhile.

And I've heard tales from flights where the aurora was more playful and vibrant.

My video on the trip will be coming soon.

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