Dutch UFO reporting website www.ufomeldpunt.nl was swamped with more than 150 sightings, with fervent UFO spotters describing a “bizarre train of stars or lights moving across the skies at constant speed”.
Instead of anything alien, it was a string of some 60 satellites launched by businessman Elon Musk’s SpaceX hours earlier as part of its ‘Starlink’ constellation. A lot of Dutch folks staring at the sky had no clue this was going to happen, so you can imagine the commotion it caused.
One of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida last Friday, and an hour later began releasing the satellites at an altitude of 450 kilometres. The satellites then had to separate and use their thrusters to take up their positions in a relatively low orbit of 550 kilometres. Starlink will become operational once 800 satellites have been activated, which will require a dozen more launches.
Dutch astronomer Marco Langbroek noted on his blog that he calculated where the satellites would be orbiting, and waited with his camera. The result is a spectacular one: a string of bright dots flying across the sky, prompting people to report UFOs.
The town of Houten, Utrecht features two roundabouts meant as landing pads (‘air strips’) for alien ships, installed some 15 years ago. One of the roundabouts is a kind of traffic tower for the UFOs, similar to what you would see at an airport, while the other is the actual landing pad, a bit like a helipad, but once again for a flying saucer.
A local politician of the SGP, the same religious sad sacks that regularly complain about metal music, paid parking on Sundays and more recently clutched their pearls over a poster of women kissing, forgetting that the law is not the Bible in the Netherlands, said “a landing pad for UFOs has little to do with reality”, at which point I laughed out loud for a few minutes, wondering if the guy realised what he was saying.
The politician said the art has little to do with what Houten has to offer and should be replaced by references to cycling, fruit or forts. The artist, Martin Riebeek is not from Houten, but lives in Breda, Noord-Brabant and is originally from Haarlem, North Holland, and why is this used as an argument is beyond me.
The ‘U’ on the landing pad in the picture does not stand for UFO, but for ‘you’ in the polite form in Dutch (‘U’) according to Riebeek.