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Come fly with me . . . Damien McNamara and Kelly Harvey look forward to the upcoming flight to view the aurora australis, which will take place next year. The pair are pictured at the Oamaru observatory. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Two lucky secondary school pupils will get the opportunity to fly over the Antarctic and view the aurora australis in April next year.

Oamaru astrophotographer Damien McNamara, who went on the first flight organised by Otago Museum director and former Nasa Space Telescope Science Institute public outreach head Ian Griffin last year, is again offering pupils a chance to experience the flight of a lifetime.

“I’m confident we’ll see something,” he said.

On his second flight earlier this year, Mr McNamara arranged a trip for 14-year-old Waitaki Girls’ HighSchool pupil Tilly King, after calling for nominations for worthy recipients at local secondary schools.

For his next trip, he plans to take two pupils.

Mr McNamara hoped some of the aspiring astrophotographers who were nominated for the previous trip would again put their hands up.

The hardest part about organising the venture would be choosing the right pupils for the flight.

“To have to pick two this year . . . I know it’s going to be a nightmare,” he said.

Pupils who were nominated had to have an interest in art and science and be excelling in their studies at school, he said.

“I want genuine, deserving students to come along and experience it.”

Nominations had to come from either a parent or a teacher.

“If a parent nominates then a teacher has to nominate later on,” Mr McNamara said.

Pupils wanting to go on the trip also needed to have had previous experience of long-haul flights.

“You’ve got to remember you’re on board a plane with 150 other people that have paid $4000-plus for these tickets,” he said.

“You don’t really want to be turning around an hour into the flight.”

Nominations for the flight close in September.

Tutu Hills Cakes and Gifts store owner Kelly Harvey has also jumped on board to help with the project.

She is organising a black tie ball which will help fundraise for the flight.

It will be aurora-themed and will be held at the Weston Hall on September 29.

An auction for a third available seat on the flight would be held at the ball, and some of the money raised would be distributed to various charities throughout the community.