Reports of unidentified flying objects (UFO) in Belgium dropped significantly last year in comparison with the number of observations reported in 2020.
The Belgian UFO hotline covering the Dutch-speaking region received a total of 184 reports in 2021 – a 59% decrease compared to 2020. After being on the rise for several years, the number of reports is back at exactly the same level as in 2018. However, none of the reports received in 2021 is yet under investigation as it seems that they all can be explained.
The French-speaking COBEPS (Comité Belge pour l’Etude des Phénomènes Spatiaux) received 77 reports last year.
According to the Dutch-speaking hotline, which has received 3,250 reports since it was first created in 2007, the introduction of an IFO (identified flying objects) database explains many observations that were at first unidentified. These often turn out to be aeroplanes and satellites. Those who want to report a sighting are asked to go through the list before reporting it.
In one-fifth of cases, the organisation has insufficient information to carry out an investigation. In most cases, the report can be explained by an aircraft or helicopter, a meteor, space debris, satellites or the International Space Station.
Starlink satellites and clearer skies
After an exceptional 2020, the UFO hotline is now returning to a normal number of observations. A large number of reports in 2020 had a lot to do with the lockdown, the good weather resulting in clearer skies and the launch of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites.
In 2021, the largest number of observations came from Antwerp province where 46 cases were reported to the hotline. The monitoring centre says it can give no explanation for this.
Most observations were made in September, which can in part be explained by the fact that gas clouds that were produced during a braking manoeuvre of a Centaur rocket stage above the North Sea, on 27 September.