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, 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.

Voting for ‘Common Decency’



As you might be well aware, I’m half British in my mind and most of my friends live in the United Kingdom, so I’m well informed of what’s happening over there. Today they vote. Now I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert in politics, in any country, but of course it’s very important for everyone to use their voice and vote.

As you may also know, one of my English friends, Dr Brian May, has been tirelessly telling everyone to please use this right indeed, to try and make their little part of the world a better place. And to help everyone who’s not sure who to vote for, he set up the Common Decency concept. This is not a political party and neither does it support one single party.

What it does do is support individuals who’ve shown to be decent. Those who not only have the most decent plans, but also those who stick to those plans. Now as I said, I’m not an expert, but it seems to me this should make it easier to choose who to vote for and in making it easier, maybe more people will vote indeed.

It makes sense to me. So in support of Brian, everyone at Common Decency and all my other pals in blighty, I thought I’d post this reminder to 1) please go and vote and 2) maybe check out Common Decency first. As the line on the card reads: Only 24 hours of democracy every 5 years, make sure you use it – vote on May 7th 2015.


Flyer contructed by Brian.

A little announcement

In 2007 I discovered a Voorwerp. In 2013 I lectured about said Voorwerp and I met my partner. In October 2015…

Aankondiging 2 - kopie (3)

We’re expecting a baby boy! Here is the little bug. I underestimated how exhausting it is for a female body to make a baby (I mean, the process after fertilisation). Then there was also the scary weeks of being diagnosed with a rare but life-threatening infection, for which I’m seeing experts in Belgium now. We seem okay, just very very tired (and that’s the reason I haven’t answered your e-mail yet! Sorry!) This blog won’t turn into a pregnancy/baby blog, but an occasional announcement like this seems appropriate, I think.


Oh and thanks for all your enthusiastic messages, cards and gifts so far. Even all of those who spilled the beans on flipping Facebook before I was ready to do so. Yes, I can laugh about it now.

Northern Lights & Sun Eclipse

Remember those recent cool events? Even though they were visible in some parts of the Netherlands, unfortunately I was not in those parts for either. Steven Lantinga (my partner) was and he took these pictures, which I’d still like to show off. So, enjoy!

(It’s fairly late, but I’ve been busy. I’ll let you know soon with what).