Saturday, 13 February 2010

Flight to nowhere

Well, a fun trip last night.

3½ hour flight from Gatwick, to, err, Gatwick!

Was fun when I got something in the shop air-side as they asked Where are you flying to today? and seemed confused when I said Gatwick...

After take off, and a very quickly served sandwich and scone, the fun started...

Several people walking down the plane with reels of black tape, covering over the no-smoking signs, toilet signs, camera LCD displays that could not be turned off, anything that glowed in any way. My camera has a bright red LED for memory card activity and needed a bit of black tape, but the LCD and so on could be turned off.

Then plunged in to darkness... Even the navigation lights and strobes on the wings were turned off when air traffic control allowed.

We flew north of Scotland and then east/west a bit, then west/east a bit a few times.

We saw lots of stars! Some impressive views of the night sky.

We saw a dim green glow to the north, and that is sadly it. Yes - I have hand help 15s exposures showing a dim green glow and they are not really worth publishing.

We had three astronomers doing running commentary.

But it was fun, and I am assured that on many of these trips people do get a really good view of the Northern Lights.

It's a bit of a shame that my best picture is one of the boarding pass!

P.S. On the way back the doors from domestic arrivals were locked. I ended up having to press the green emergency break-glass to get us all out!

P.P.S. Tips if you go. Take binoculars and mirror if you have one. For camera, has to have high ISO manual exposure. Maybe take a mono-pod. Fast lens - if I go again the f/1.2 85mm will be ideal. Red torch is an idea, and red filter over LCD on camera would allow checking shots.

6 comments:

  1. Shame.

    I've seen them twice, neither of which has been decent.

    First time on the Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes but only between gaps in the cloud. Second time was on a flight back from Chicago while crossing the Atlantic but really had to shield the light from the cabin to see them.

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  2. Ha! I've spent many hours flying up and down the North Sea with the lights out.

    Mind you we were hunting bears...

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  3. Wow, very impressed, and very jealous!

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  4. weird coincidence - i just bought a telescope on Saturday... sounds ace though!

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  5. sometimes you can get good views of them even this far south.

    I used to live on the Isle of wight, coming up to Gatwick for a holiday in the sun (late November) there was a very clear view of them while crossing the Solent. Unfortunately, I had no camera until I arrived at Gatwick.

    When you do get to see them, it's definately worth it, I do recommend late in the year: November/December as aposed to February. Think I'll have a flight at the end of this year.

    J

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  6. Adrian, one for you..
    http://julesmattsson.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/the-romford-incident/

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