In the movies, Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and extra-terrestrial life forms only ever seem to land in the USA. But outside of Hollywood depictions, reports of suspected visitors from another planet aren’t as concentrated around Roswell as you might think. This map at UFO World Sightings suggests Europe and South America are popular destinations from intergalactic tourists too.
South Africa has had its share of UFO sightings too: there’s a couple of dozen listed on our very own Wikipedia page, and they aren’t all around Waterkloof either. In fact, there’s a very active UFO community here which documents suspected sightings. And they’re more common than you’d think.
Obviously once we’d heard of this organisation, we had to find out more.
“We receive around two to eight sightings a week,” explains Gert Jordaan, founder of UFO Research of South Africa, “Some can be explained such as a plane or helicopter far in the distance (daytime sightings). Some can be planets or satellites (night time sightings). But we receive a large amount a month.”
Jordaan’s organisation, which was created back in 2011, serves as a place for fellow UFO enthusiasts to share stories, compare experiences and post pictures as well as videos of what many purport to be UFOs flying around – shaky visuals and all.
And while Jordaan himself can’t explain the plethora of jittery videos on YouTube, he does offer a bit of useful advice if residents see something in the night (or day) sky that they can’t explain.
“Normal people on the street are not always professional photographers or cameramen. And many people use their phones to take a picture or video. The best way to go about taking a picture or video is to lean against a wall or something similar to stabilize themselves. Blurred images can sometimes be an object or craft moving at very high speeds,” he advises.
Browsing through the UFO RSA archives, the latest report of a sighting was as early as three days ago, with a reader seeing four orange lights moving upwards over Kirstenhof in Cape Town. On the 3rd of January, there was even a report of a large black triangle over Pretoria.
We’re cautious to call Jordaan a believer in aliens as there are many people around the world that claim to have seen, been abducted by, and even communicated with different otherworld species telepathically.
But is it a conspiracy?
Did you know that the UK government ran a UFO desk for almost 30 years until it was disbanded in November 2009?
Say what you will, the word ‘conspiracy’ will almost always be worked into a sentence when UFOs or aliens are mentioned. And the final declassified tranche of UFO files from the UK was released in 2012, and contained over 4 400 pages on the matter.
Giving reasons for the closure of the UFO desk, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said “no UFO sighting reported to [MoD] has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK. Accordingly, no further investigations should be carried out into UFO reports received from any source.”
But that clearly hasn’t deterred Jordaan and the rest of the South African UFO community from claiming a conspiracy.
“Since the Roswell incident, many people do think that there is a cover-up. And since sightings span across the globe, many government officials will follow the footsteps of the American government and cover it up. In my research (which I will not go in too deep) I found that the American government made a deal with aliens. Their technology in exchange for experiments on humans and animal live-stock.”
If you fancy yourself a local UFO hunter, and are wondering where you would have the most luck in tracking down Alf locally, Jordaan suggests packing your bags and head to KwaZulu-Natal.
“The three top places in South Africa where the most sightings come from is KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng. KwaZulu-Natal is a hot-spot for UFO activity, maybe due to the mountain ranges. Western Cape is also a hot-spot since it is vast and open and does not have high light pollution.”
You will also have better luck when the temperatures start to drop.
“We see more sightings during winter time than any other season. We also receive a lot of sightings close to the end of each year.”
Grab your tinfoil hat… it’s time for an astronomy lesson
“Mainly the reason I come to understand is exploration, just like we would do if we can get to travel to other parts of the galaxy,” explains Jordaan, when questioned why aliens would make their way to South Africa. “Or they might be interested in our civilization and its advances. Or they might be curious about the different species in the galaxy.”
“For the sceptical people, our Sun is a star in our solar system. There are 100 – 400 billion stars in our galaxy. So there may contain some planets that is almost the same as planet Earth around those stars. Some of those planets may contain life that could be just as advanced as we are, if not more advanced. And not to mention the other billions of galaxies out in the universe,” he adds.
Are we alone in the universe? Science doesn’t really have an answer for that, and kind of goes against what Jordaan explained. The Fermi paradox was created by physicists Enrico Fermi, and he argues that even if the Sun is a star; even if there is a high probability of Earth-like planets; even if civilizations develop interstellar travel; and even if the galaxy can be completely colonized, Femi saw no evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy or in the observable universe.
This thinking led to his famous question: “Where is everybody?”
New Scientist has also created a rather impressive interactive webpage to demonstrate the calculation of how many other Earth-like planets could exist by using data from NASA’s Kepler telescope – which was focused on deep space near the constellation Cygnus.
By using some clever scientific methods, such as monitoring for a flicker of light when a planet could be passing between us and its Sun, or calculating which of the possible objects are in the life-forming Goldilock zone, the simulation extrapolated that there could be about 51 life-forming exoplanets in the 0.28 per cent of the sky Kepler observed – which was also limited to just 3 000 light years away.
If you want more information on the hunt for exoplanets that could sustain life, check out the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, set to launch in 2017.
So before you call them tinfoil hat crazies, bear in mind that there is no other organisation like UFO RSA in the country – and somebody has to be keeping their eyes on the sky while we go about our daily lives.
“As far as we know, we are the only organisation in South Africa who is interested in the UFO phenomena. We do have a lot of interest from people who would like to know more about UFOs. We receive a lot of requests from people who want to join in and help. That is a good sign to the UFO community in South Africa.”
Whether or not there are UFO or aliens out there is anybody’s guess. So until they show themselves to us in an exclusive interview with Oprah, we will never truly know what lurks in the deepest places of space.
It also begs another question: are we ready for aliens?
[Image – CC by 2.0/Val Astraverkhau]