Voorwerp discovery Public appearances Astronomy adventures Everyday life Comic book Voorwerp discovery Public appearances Astronomy adventures Everyday life Comic book

“Did you find a voorwerp?”

Why yes I did! (In the leaflet on the boat to our summer holiday destination, under lost and found – I thought it was too funny not to share).


Asteroid Day: Don’t Be A Dinosaur!


Asteroid Day is a global movement to protect Earth from Asteroids. Or, as it says on asteroidday.org: “It’s a global awareness movement where people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, our families, communities, and future generations. Asteroid Day will be held on the anniversary of the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event, the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history”. Which is tomorrow, 30 June 2015.

I know I have a lot of readers who know even less about astronomy and science than I do as an amateur, citizen scientist, but don’t get me wrong: this is not another doomsday prediction. I try to pay as little attention to those silly but annoying announced apocalyptic events, which are usually not based on facts and evidentially, none of these forecasts have actually happened so far. So, we haven’t found an asteroid of which we can say it’s going to destroy our home on a certain date – yet.

But, according to this declaration you can sign, stating your concerns, there are a million asteroids in our solar system that have the potential to strike Earth and destroy a city, yet we have discovered less than 10,000 — just one percent — of them. And if you’re now thinking: “Yeah, well, you never know what’s going to happen and I will probably be dead by the time this happens”, then you might be right. Because we don’t know (yet) if an asteroid will hit us in another hundred year’s time or, say, next week.

Should we panic then? No, but let’s also not be dinosaurs. As Bill Nye, who’s one of the esteemed scientists who signed the declaration, said: “Someday humankind will have to prevent an asteroid impact. We will need to work together to get it done. The first step toward protecting our planet is to find and track the swarm of space rocks that cross orbit with Earth. Let’s get going!”

So tomorrow will be the first global Asteroid Day, to raise awareness of the fact we need to act now. If you want to add your name to the list of people who’ve said: “Yes I think this is important, please do something about this” too, then you can find the petition on asteroidday.org.

On there you can also find a list of cool events, such as the premiere of the film 51 Degrees North in London, the Science Museum. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it, but I thought I should bring it to your attention anyway. My pal Brian May has written the music for it and I can’t wait to see the result. I’m going to end here with a little interview he did, in which he gives away only a little bit of why this movie is so unique.


This update will probably make little sense to readers who’re expecting a cohesive entry, but since this is also a bit of my diary, I wanted to keep it complete with these things that have kept me entertained the last few months (besides growing a new human being and the tiredness that comes with that). There were also a few bigger events I still want to write about, so expect some throwback things in the near future too.

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Meanwhile, I will start with something astronomy related (in case you haven’t seen them on social media yet): my birthday prezzies. And with that, another late THANKS to everyone for the lovely day and wishes! My 32nd trip around the Sun was another amazing one, mostly because of the lovely people around me, and I feel very grateful for that.

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The new journey started well too, as we went to see Fleetwood Mac in Antwerp. I was very excited with all of them touring together again and they were fabulous! On the way back home, I sang their songs again in the car, still wishing they will bring out a DVD of this show.

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Other things we went to see included Hartsvrienden and Jurassic World. We also walked a lot, my BFF Angie got married and I now (finally) have a poster of Hanny’s Voorwerp, yay! Then there was the surprise of the gentleman on my right sending me this photo recently, even though it was taken at the press conference in Seattle in 2011!


And what’s occupying my mind right now is this beautiful track written by my old pal Brian and played beautifully by my new friend Henri (who’s band we went to see also). Share and Enjoy!

How to pronounce the word ‘Voorwerp’?

Believe it or not, but that’s still one of the questions I frequently get asked and although I just finished another (English) phonetics course, it’s quite a hard question to answer in an e-mail. (In actual conversations at meetings abroad, people get round this by asking about my ‘thingy’ in space). Now I could just forward everyone to the Wikipedia page about said thingy, but after reading the comments on a recent appearance of Hanny’s Voorwerp on an American Science Show, I decided to finally answer with a video myself, in which I explain the rest. So there ya have it.

Hanny’s Voorwerp and the Little Voorwerpjes

As with almost everything these days, I meant to show you this sooner, but it’s still cool. Did I tell you that after the big Hanny’s Voorwerp discovery we found a few more examples? They live closer to their neighbouring galaxies (compared to their big cousin Hanny’s Voorwerp) and they’re smaller. Hence the nickname Voorwerpjes, meaning ‘little voorwerps’. They recently appeared on various places around the world, including spacetelescope.org, which a couple of you have pointed out to me (thanks for that!)

We also appeared on Astronomy Picture Of the Day again and I was sent this cool video below, which gives a more detailed explanation too. And I know I’m not supposed to read the comments, but I have to admit I find the internet’s thoughts on this quite amusing…



Okay, a top 15…

1. Actually i am more impress by brian may being a astrophysicist than a new type of object discovered : D

2. This is the most amazing thing ever. Basically it’s the dance between two galaxies. Hm. Sounds like a Queen lyric. Lol.

3. Just one reason Brian May is my favorite rockstar.

4. A L L H A I L T H E G L O W C L O U D

5. So it’s like a spotlight on a cloud.

6. …so it’s a space-rainbow. =)

7. Voorwerp is such a weird word though.

8. Very disappointed that I didn’t get to hear another person fuck up the name.

9. Well, you tried pronouncing it correctly. Close enough.

10. They should have called the object “Hagelslag” just to confuse scientists.

11. She’s really fortunate. By volunteering & asking a simple question, Hanny van Arkel’s name will be remembered forever… well for as long as human civilization exists. Now that’s immortality.

12. Thanks, joining galaxy zoo right now. At the same time I wish not to find a black hole. ; )

13. I’ve heard of this object before, but I never bothered to look into it. This video made me realize that was quite the mistake.

14. I’d like to touch hanny’s hinny.

15. Yeah, I’d like to stick my voorwerp into your blue blob……or black hole…either one is good.