UFO Research Centre, Smithfield
Did you know?
The Smithfield UFO Centre is one many listening posts connected to the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).
Small towns all over the world have their special features, a main attraction that draws your interest and makes you drive in and stay over and meet the locals.
Smithfield in the southern Free State is no exception, with its friendly people, good overnight lodgings and Unidentified Flying Object Research Centre.
You might think it’s a bit of a joke at 1st, because the UFO Research Centre shares its location with the Pigout Restaurant, which serves deliciously eccentric meals. But once you meet Henk Swanepoel and hear what he has to say, you realise that Smithfield really is an outer space listening post.
As you enter the premises, the 2 large satellite dishes on the front lawn, with their antennae pointing up at the heavens, are the 1st sign of ongoing extra-terrestrial studies.
Inside, just near the restaurant kitchen, is the HQ of the UFO Centre, where Swanepoel has installed a number of computers programmed to listen to the storms on Jupiter, activity around the sun and the general background hiss of the Universe.
Swanepoel will hand you his business card, which bears the slogan: ‘The Search for Complex Signals.’
He is part of a world-wide network of amateur radio astronomers and space-listeners. He also interviews people who may have seen something strange in the skies above us.
Swanepoel belongs to the Radio Jove project run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), which does research on Jupiter, and to the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) League's main initiative, Project Argus, which monitors the sounds from space.
His motivation: 'Well, if you do find something major, it will have a profound effect on the world. And if we don’t find any life outside Earth, it’s actually just as profound. It shows just how special we are.'
In the meantime, visitors who come to the centre to impart information on a sighting or to simply meet the colourful Henk Swanepoel and enjoy the offerings of Smithfield, a little town that makes the most of what it has.
Smithfield lies on the ‘Friendly N6 Route’ and is all about starry skies, farm stays, San paintings in the mountains nearby, an enjoyable winter festival, good golfing, a creditable art gallery and true Free State fare where some part of a sheep is always on the menu.
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Who to contact
Smithfield UFO Research Centre:
Tel: +27 (0)51 683 0498