Officials shed little light on closure of solar observatory

September 14, 2018 by Susan Montoya Bryan
Officials shed little light on closure of solar observatory
The entrance to Sunspot Observatory is blocked near Alamogordo, N.M., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. An observatory in the mountains of southern New Mexico that is dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of the sun has found itself at the center of a mystery that is creating a buzz here on earth. (Dylan Taylor-Lehman/Alamogordo Daily News via AP)

An observatory in the mountains of southern New Mexico that is dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of the sun has found itself at the center of a mystery that is creating a buzz here on earth.

The Sunspot Solar Observatory has been closed for more than a week. Authorities remain tightlipped Friday, saying only that an undisclosed security concern was behind the decision to abruptly vacate and lock up the remote facility on Sept 6.

The FBI referred all questions to the group that manages the site, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. Officials there say they're working with authorities.

The association said in an update Friday that it has "decided that the observatory will remain closed until further notice due to an ongoing security concern. The rest of the National Solar Observatory facilities remain open and are operating normally."

The vagueness continued to fuel speculation on social media.

Located atop Sacramento Peak, the observatory was established in 1947. It overlooks the Tularosa Basin—an expanse of desert that includes the city of Alamogordo, Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range, White Sands National Monument and the site of the world's first atomic bomb test.

The telescope at Sunspot was originally built by the U.S. Air Force. After several years of operation, it was transferred to the National Solar Observatory, which is part of the National Science Foundation.

New Mexico State University in 2016 launched an initiative funded by the foundation to upgrade and update the facility through the newly formed Sunspot Solar Observatory Consortium.

Sunspot's one-of-a-kind telescope produces some of the sharpest images of the sun available in the world, officials said.

Data from observations done at Sunspot is sent to New Mexico State University servers and can be used by researchers around the world.

Solar physicist R.T. James McAteer, who is based at New Mexico State University, said in an email Friday that it will be up to the astronomy research association to decide when Sunspot reopens.

"We have paused observations, and are taking this opportunity to catch up with the back log of data from previous months," he said.

There are several university employees and association staff who work at the observatory.

Explore further: Mexico to inaugurate powerful new space observatory

Related Stories

Mexico to inaugurate powerful new space observatory

March 18, 2015

Perched atop a volcano in Mexico, a new generation observatory capable of detecting exploding stars, black holes and solar flares will begin operating this week, scientists said Tuesday.

Future of giant radio telescope in Puerto Rico in limbo

January 25, 2017

The future of one of the world's largest single-dish radio telescopes is in question after the U.S. National Science Foundation announced Wednesday it was accepting proposals from those interested in assuming operations at ...

NASA's SDO watches a sunspot turn toward Earth

July 12, 2017

An active region on the sun—an area of intense and complex magnetic fields—has rotated into view on the sun and seems to be growing rather quickly in this video captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory between July ...

Recommended for you

First to red planet will become Martians: Canada astronaut

September 22, 2018

Astronauts traveling through space on the long trip to Mars will not have the usual backup from mission control on Earth and will need to think of themselves as Martians to survive, Canada's most famous spaceman half-jokingly ...

Three NASA missions return first-light data

September 21, 2018

NASA's continued quest to explore our solar system and beyond received a boost of new information this week with three key missions proving not only that they are up and running, but that their science potential is exceptional. ...

Dwarf companion to EPIC 206011496 detected by astronomers

September 20, 2018

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), European astronomers have uncovered the presence of an M-dwarf around the star EPIC 206011496. The newly found object is more than 60 percent less massive than our sun and is bounded ...

29 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jpdemers
5 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2018
There's much entertainment to be had from the conspiracy nuts as they pile on with their "explanations". I doubt that the actual facts will be half as interesting.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 16, 2018
""We have paused observations, and are taking this opportunity to catch up with the back log of data from previous months," he said."

So they quickly brought in FBI agents and sent all employees away from the facility; and they brought in a Blackhawk helicopter. And they refused to reveal to the Sheriff or to the local newspaper what was the reason for all the secrecy - and it was all done to "catch up with the back log of data from previous months"??
Come on - who do you think you're fooling?
I think that some UFOs were photographed while refueling their spacecrafts with plasma from the Sun's Corona, and when the scientists saw the photos, they sent for the FBI to tell them what to do with the evidence that UFOs exist. There is nothing conspiratorial about it - just that the US government, as usual, doesn't want the general public to know that these things are real so as not to cause a panic amongst the stupid ones.
They won't tell the truth until an 'invasion' begins.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2018
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 16, 2018
For anyone who cares, notice in the second YouTube video of the Sun, how a long thin tendril of Plasma is crossing out of the Sun's corona, heading for the round white object and connecting with the object. Also notice that the long tendril of Plasma is not falling back into the Sun, but is staying in a position, almost like the hose coming out from a petrol pump and moving toward your vehicle with your hand guiding it. The round white object appears to be a spacecraft that is in a docking position to refuel.
It is possible that more photos of the Sun have showed other round white objects also docked near enough to the Sun's corona to access some of the Sun's Plasma as fuel.
This action may have been going on for a very long time, and only recently has it been seen by solar observatories on Earth.
This is science, but it is being hidden away from humanity. Why?
rrwillsj
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2018
Conspiracy? Oh for sure! Why not? Nothing better to do with our time is there?

Okay, here goes. With a Whoop and a Holler!

Surreptitiously_Egest_Unhinged is a known agent provocateur for the Uranus Conspiracy. Deliberately spreading misleading agitprop to conceal the truth from you, the Public!

The painful truth, that there is a superfluity of hoaxers and bunco artists shitting across your monitor screens with fraudulent claims.

Go ahead... Lean over closer to your screen and give it the "smell" test!
barakn
5 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2018
If the alleged space ship in the obviously photoshopped youtube video linked by S_E_U was real, it would be ~79,000 km long, i.e. bigger than the radius of the planet Jupiter, the biggest of the solar system planets. The gullibility of some physorg commenters knows no bounds.
Cusco
5 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
Interestingly they also closed the closest post office, and another about 30 miles away.

Surveillance_Egg_Unit
3 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2018
If the alleged space ship in the obviously photoshopped youtube video linked by S_E_U was real, it would be ~79,000 km long, i.e. bigger than the radius of the planet Jupiter, the biggest of the solar system planets. The gullibility of some physorg commenters knows no bounds.

says barakn

Apparently, you were looking at the elongated strip of a red-colored object in which the round WHITE object is at. The round WHITE object is at the receiving end of the long Plasma tendril that has come out of the Sun's corona. IOW, your are not looking in the right place.
Try again, and this time find the round WHITE object that is the target of the Plasma from the Sun's corona. You may need to enlarge your view to see it better.
jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
If the alleged space ship in the obviously photoshopped youtube video linked by S_E_U was real, it would be ~79,000 km long, i.e. bigger than the radius of the planet Jupiter, the biggest of the solar system planets. The gullibility of some physorg commenters knows no bounds.

says barakn

Apparently, you were looking at the elongated strip of a red-colored object in which the round WHITE object is at. The round WHITE object is at the receiving end of the long Plasma tendril that has come out of the Sun's corona. IOW, your are not looking in the right place.
Try again, and this time find the round WHITE object that is the target of the Plasma from the Sun's corona. You may need to enlarge your view to see it better.


https://www.lifew...8fdf.jpg
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
3 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2018
Interestingly they also closed the closest post office, and another about 30 miles away.

says Cusco

It sounds like a government coverup. There have been suggestions that ETs are here on our planet, living and working together with humans while appearing human.
I don't doubt that this was, and is happening, since the Earth is possibiy the likeliest place they would go to (for whatever reasons that they left their home planet).
I also find the likelihood to be very exciting and challenging. But my guess is that they might be trying to crowd out humans, OR mate with humans so that their children will be more able to cope and adapt to Earth's condition.

But you are correct - the postal facilities were closed to the public and the public were told to stay away from the Solar Observatory....just so that they could catch up with paperwork and other data.
It does not make sense at all. AND the Observatory's employees were warned to not talk to the media.
Why??
jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
3 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2018
Conspiracy? Oh for sure! Why not? Nothing better to do with our time is there?

Okay, here goes. With a Whoop and a Holler!

Surreptitiously_Egest_Unhinged is a known agent provocateur for the Uranus Conspiracy. Deliberately spreading misleading agitprop to conceal the truth from you, the Public!

The painful truth, that there is a superfluity of hoaxers and bunco artists shitting across your monitor screens with fraudulent claims.

Go ahead... Lean over closer to your screen and give it the "smell" test!


So you think that NASA is a bunch of bunco artists and hoaxers. Which agency do you think has launched those satellites toward the Sun as a means of observation?
Phyllis Harmonic
3 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2018
"AURA has been cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak. During this time, we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.

"The decision to vacate was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat."

From NPR
jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
As far as I can see, there are about a dozen solar observatories in the U.S. Strange that only this one was prevented from looking at the aliens! :)

https://en.wikipe...lescopes
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
@Cusco
Perhaps the new Parker Solar Probe will solve the enigma of the Plasma from the Sun snaking its way toward the White sphere that doesn't fall back into the Sun. But NASA may prefer to not reveal what Parker has observed.

@PH
What criminal activity? And why would a criminal target a Solar Observation facility?
The very FIRST excuse was that they emptied the facility so that they could (finish up some administrative work on data) which means that a number of employees were still in the facility.
IF there was a criminal on the loose, then ALL personnel would have been evacuated to protect lives. Or perhaps they did not consider the lives of those left behind to be of any importance?

The government is known to make excuses like this to prevent the public from getting at the truth.
Black Ops is at it again.
jonesdave
1 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2018
Black Ops is at it again.


Oh dear. Conspiracy nutjobs! Like I said, why did all the other solar observatories remain open?
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
From NPR:
On Sept. 6, the Sunspot Solar Observatory was suddenly closed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the consortium that operates it, without public explanation.

People who work at the observatory, and those who live on the site, were asked to evacuate. The site's post office was also closed.

The Otero County sheriff told the local newspaper that his office was alerted but not given any information.

"The FBI is refusing to tell us what's going on," Sheriff Benny House told the Alamogordo Daily News shortly after the closure. "We've got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say."

The Sheriff was not told of the reason for the closing of Sunspot Observatory. If it had really been a criminal investigation, then why keep it a secret from the Sheriff of Sunspot?
jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
The Sheriff was not told of the reason for the closing of Sunspot Observatory. If it had really been a criminal investigation, then why keep it a secret from the Sheriff of Sunspot?


You keep repeating the same deranged conspiracist nonsense. Why close this observatory, and not the others? Sorry, but this is laughable nonsense.

Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
The FBI does not usually get involved in civilian criminal cases unless it is of an international nature, such as terrorism, in which case the CIA also gets involved. Otherwise, criminal investigations are handled by the County Sheriff and the local police forces. As the Sheriff was kept in the dark as to the reasons for the closing and evacuation, and the closing of a postal facility, it is unlikely that there was a civilian criminal investigation going on at the Observatory.

IF there had been an actual threat to personnel at the Observatory, then the Sheriff and other police personnel would have been called in to evaluate the situation and to protect the perimeter and other areas. But only the FBI showed up with a Blackhawk helicopter. The Sheriff's Dept. and his Deputies know the area very well, which makes this whole affair very suspicious.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
The Sheriff was not told of the reason for the closing of Sunspot Observatory. If it had really been a criminal investigation, then why keep it a secret from the Sheriff of Sunspot?


You keep repeating the same deranged conspiracist nonsense. Why close this observatory, and not the others? Sorry, but this is laughable nonsense.



You really don't know? Of course it would be laughable to you and a few others. And why should the other observatories be closed?
jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
The Sheriff's Dept. and his Deputies know the area very well, which makes this whole affair very suspicious.


It may or may not be more than it seems. The telescope overlooks a missile testing range. However, aliens draining plasma from the Sun is just batsh1t crazy stuff. Has SOHO been shut down? Have any of the Earth based observatories?
Pure, conspiracist lunacy.

jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
You really don't know? Of course it would be laughable to you and a few others. And why should the other observatories be closed?


It is laughable to anyone with half a brain. Why would the other observatories be closed? Because they are looking at the Sun as well, probably with better gear than this one has. Why stop one observatory from looking at the Sun? Crazy stuff.

Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
The Sunspot is an Earth-based Solar Observatory. It is possible that this observatory also handles the Solar photos from satellites.

I see that YOU are pretending to be the expert on this case. Years from now, if there is a problem and humanity is threatened by "off-worlders" where strange diseases have been found amongst humans, and other unusual activities are going on, both on Earth and in outer space - I will remember you and what you have said. I see annihilation is speeding up. But ALWAYS blame it on AGW.
So laugh all you want if it makes you feel better.
jonesdave
1 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2018
The Sunspot is an Earth-based Solar Observatory. It is possible that this observatory also handles the Solar photos from satellites.


Nope. They'll go to the agencies running the space telescopes. Why would you send them to an observatory??????? In the case of SOHO it'll be ESA/ NASA.

Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
Your mentioning NASA as a recipient of the satellite photos of the Sun is correct. And Sunspot Observatory may have also received such satellite photos from NASA, and found something in them that would require a government agency other than NASA to step in and take over.
As I've said, i.e. the FBI doesn't get involved unless a national security issue, or that there is a possible and maybe inevitable problem such as a large solar flare headed toward Earth.
If there are only a few or several scientists/employees who are trained to provide help with such issues, then it is they who would remain in place while all others are sent away.
The missile testing range would not be in use where there is a civilian population in the region, therefore it is no excuse.
There has been no indication that a criminal has been captured, otherwise the story would have been in the media by now. If he or she were still on the mountain, then the Sheriff would have brought in dogs to hunt for him.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2018
In any case, I have grown very interested in the outcome of all this. So I will try to investigate as to the real story of what, why, and how it all happened. It is very unusual - too unusual and there are too many discrepancies/holes in the story that the media is giving out.
jonesdave
1 / 5 (2) Sep 17, 2018
Your mentioning NASA as a recipient of the satellite photos of the Sun is correct. And Sunspot Observatory may have also received such satellite photos from NASA, and found something in them that would require a government agency other than NASA to step in and take over.


Why on Earth would the observatory get data from SOHO? Stop being stupid, if that is possible.

rrwillsj
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2018
Well, Stupid_Example_Useless continues to suppose and propose based on the most ridiculously idiotic speculations fermenting out of his raving delusions.

LOOK UP IN THE SKY!

IT'S A BIRD!

IT'S A PLANE!
I
T'S... IT'S WHAT?
THE MIGHTY SUEY MOUSE, COME TO SAVE THE DAY!

granville583762
5 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2018
Apparently it is now open again, the conspiracy now is, why was it reopened

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.