Mysterious Observatory Evacuation Stirs Alien Conspiracy Theories

Discussion in 'Conspiracy: General' started by maximus otter, Sep 13, 2018 at 9:01 AM.

  1. maximus otter

    maximus otter Recovering policeman

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    The FBI showed up and evacuated the remote Sunspot solar observatory in southern New Mexico. Almost a week later, no one knows why.

    Reports that a Blackhawk helicopter and federal agents swooped in and inexplicably evacuated a remote part of New Mexico, including a prominent solar observatory, has some corners of the internet predictably atwitter about a possible alien coverup.

    [​IMG]

    The Dunn Solar Telescope at the Sunspot solar observatory hides most of itself underground.

    FBI agents showed up at the Sunspot solar observatory in tiny Sunspot, New Mexico, on Friday and shut down the facility, evacuating the local area, including the Sunspot post office.

    "There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers, but nobody would tell us anything," Otero County Sheriff Benny House told the Alamogordo Daily News. "I don't know why the FBI would get involved so quick and not tell us anything."

    Five days later, the observatory's website confirms the entire facility is closed to both staff and the public until further notice.

    "The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time," AURA spokesperson Shari Lifson said in an emailed statement. "It's a temporary evacuation of the facility. We will open it up as soon as possible."

    In the vacuum created by the lack of an official explanation, plenty of people on YouTube and social media and tabloid publications have stepped in to suggest their own.

    Some say the evacuation could be part of a government effort to cover up a discovery involving aliens, an impending solar flare or something else extra-planetary. Others on Reddit and elsewhere think the security issue may involve a foreign power attempting to use the observatory's antennas to spy on nearby White Sands Missile Range.

    The observatory was originally built by the military in 1947 when it realized the sun could interfere with radio communications. The National Science Foundation ran the facility from the 1960s until this year, when operation was transferred to AURA and New Mexico State University.

    Hopefully it isn't now in the process of being unwillfully transferred to aliens or foreign spies. We shall see.

    https://www.cnet.com/news/mysterious-observatory-evacuation-stirs-alien-conspiracy-theories/

    maximus otter
     
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  2. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Odd stuff, but it doesn't have to be aliens.
     
  3. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

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    It occurred to me that the closure of the nearby Post Office may be more significant than the closure of the observatory facility.

    People associated with both the observatory and the Post Office consistently claim to not know what's going on. The local law enforcement authorities are also pleading ignorance.

    One factoid that may help to explain it concerns the observatory's management. It was this year (2018) when the observatory's control passed from the National Science Foundation to the AURA consortium and New Mexico State University.

    Another thing is the fact the (night-time) Apache Point Observatory is less than a mile away, and there's been no mention of that facility being evacuated as well.
     
  4. Kingsize Wombat

    Kingsize Wombat Abominable Snowman

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    I saw that yesterday and thought about posting it here, but...is there really any signs of something fishy about it?

    Then again, it is New Mexico, so it's gotta be aliens. :embryo:
     
  5. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

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    Here are some random thoughts, none of which involve aliens ...

    It could be as simple as suspected criminal activity on the part of someone within the new AURA / NMSU regime and staff. If the suspected activity involved things being shipped in or out that might explain the closure of the Post Office as well.

    It might also be related to something involving illegal border crossings and / or human trafficking. The national forest surrounding the observatory is maybe 1.5 hours' drive from the border at El Paso. (El Paso is closer than Roswell.)

    At least the NMSU personnel on staff can work remotely for the time being (via computer networking). This triggered an old memory ... NMSU hosts a high-performance computing cluster accessible by faculty, staff, and students:

    https://hpc.nmsu.edu

    I could see how feds would get involved if there's reason to suspect mischief-makers had accessed a supercomputer-class computing array.

    The Solar Observatory is used only in the daytime, and the area surrounding it has been closed off. There's no indication the nearby night observatory complex is affected. This might be taken to suggest an attempt to prevent anyone from seeing something during the daytime at Holloman AFB or the White Sands Testing Range (both miles to the west).

    Bottom line ... I can extrapolate possible angles on the few facts we know, but there's always the possibility it's something much less ominous.
     
  6. Pockinghorn

    Pockinghorn Fresh Blood

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  7. jimv1

    jimv1 Analogue Boy

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    My guess is a kitchen hygiene issue. The FBI are really tight on that kind of thing.
     
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  8. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    A sensible article from EarthSky:

    Rest here.

    It doesn't really say anything new - but I like EarthSky.
     
  9. SkepticalX

    SkepticalX Devoted Cultist

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  10. Ringo

    Ringo 2% fat free

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  11. sherbetbizarre

    sherbetbizarre Special Branch

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  12. kamalktk

    kamalktk Justified & Ancient

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  13. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

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    An update concerning what isn't motivating the closure ...

    FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/63591-fbi-closes-solar-observatory.html
     
  14. kamalktk

    kamalktk Justified & Ancient

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  15. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Apparently, they've closed more than one post office in that area.
    Wondering why.

    Edit: If you look at the area on Google Maps, the post office is pretty much next door to the observatory, so that explains why that one has been closed. But the other ones? They're miles away.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018 at 9:40 AM
  16. Ringo

    Ringo 2% fat free

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    TIG OLE BITTIES
     
  17. mrpoultice

    mrpoultice Ephemeral Spectre

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    Unexplained 'Security Issue' Keeps National Solar Observatory Facility Shuttered.

    It's been more than a week, and a National Solar Observatory (NSO) facility in New Mexico is still closed for an undisclosed "security issue."

    The NSO's Sunspot Solar Observatory, on Sacramento Peak in the southern part of the state, was evacuated last Thursday (Sept. 6), as was a nearby post office, according to the Albuquerque Journal. FBI agents have reportedly been investigating the site, and they're apparently keeping local law-enforcement personnel in the dark.

    The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), which manages the Sunspot observatory with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, hasn't said much, either. The organization released a statement saying that AURA "is addressing a security issue" at Sunspot "and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure until further notice." AURA "is working with the proper authorities on this issue," the statement adds, without specifying who those authorities are.

    And we may not get answers anytime soon. At 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) today (Sept. 14), AURA Corporate Communications Coordinator Shari Lifson sent out an email update, which stated that AURA "has decided that the observatory will remain closed until further notice due to an ongoing security concern."

    Unsurprisingly, the dearth of information has led to a lot of speculation about what's going on. The rumors range from the downright silly (the feds shut Sunspot down to keep news about a deadly solar superflare from getting into our panicky heads) to the intriguingly believable (this may be an espionage investigation).

    Observatory team members have shot down one of the more farfetched theories, however. The "telescope did not see aliens," Sunspot Solar Observatory director James McAteer, who's also an associate professor of astronomy, solar physics and space weather at New Mexico State University, told Albuquerque news station KOB4.

    "All data will be made public in its unaltered form," McAteer added. "Nothing is hidden or kept secret."

    The FBI hadn't returned a phone call as of press time. The agency has consistently declined to comment on the Sunspot situation over the past week, according to other news organizations.

    This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. EDT to include the latest update from Shari Lifson and James McAteer's comments.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.
    Link to story here.
    More recent report from Science Magazine here.

    Mr P
     
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  18. AlchoPwn

    AlchoPwn Abominable Snowman

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    This is a very interesting story. Something telling that wasn't mentioned in the article is that the local post office was also closed down. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Solar_Observatory (under History)
     
  19. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

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    The observatory site post office evacuation / closure has been mentioned from the beginning.

    The only new post office angle (see Mytho's post #15) is a claim additional post offices have been closed.
     
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  20. AlchoPwn

    AlchoPwn Abominable Snowman

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    You are quite correct EnolaGaia. My mistake was to read the last article not the first. The reason for my drawing attention to it was that a link between the two things may be telling. I would also point out that the observatory isn't far from Roswell and Area 51. My guess is that a foreign power has installed an agent who has used the elevated sight lines to photograph the Area 51 Skunkworks operations where new US aircraft designs are tested, then rather than committing the documents to e-mail which can be traced, they used snail mail which is increasingly ignored. Cold War 2 is ramping up methinks.
     
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  21. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Reading between the lines, I think that may be it.
     
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  22. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

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    The solar observatory is on the order of 500 miles from Area 51.
     
  23. AlchoPwn

    AlchoPwn Abominable Snowman

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    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018 at 4:27 PM
  24. RaM

    RaM Justified & Ancient

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    Someone for reasons I haven't a clue, as sent some god awful poison or disease
    through the post to the observatory and they have closed down any place that
    it may have passed through.
     
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  25. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Do you have a source for that?
    Sounds plausible.
     
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  26. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    It's my understanding that the observatory is sited in a National Forest. My knowledge of US law enforcement is clearly limited - so someone feel free to call me out if I'm wrong - but it's also my understanding that National Forests, being federal land, fall under the jurisdiction of their own police agency, and the FBI. This would make the sidelining of the Otero County Sheriff (I'm assuming - possibly erroneously - working a separate jurisdiction) less a matter of mystery and more one of business as usual.

    I only point this out because some news agencies are pushing the fact that the FBI is involved, and the local County Sheriff not, as an indication, in itself, that something odd is going on.

    To anyone in the know - do I have that wrong?

    (Also the USPS - is that not also the FBI's manor?)
     
  27. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

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    You're right, although the context is a bit more complicated ...

    The national forest is under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, which has its own investigation unit.

    USPS has jurisdiction over postal matters, and they have their own investigation unit.

    The National Solar Observatory (the institute) is a joint operation involving the National Science Foundation (a US government agency). I believe the observatory facilities are federally owned.

    Any federal agency may request FBI involvement on a matter within their agency's own jurisdiction. Beyond that, certain types of cases are 'federal-level concerns' and automatically fall under the FBI's job description (e.g., kidnappings, bank robberies, anti-terrorism).

    Having said that ... An everyday 'civilian' crime or problem (i.e., something that's not considered a 'federal case' by definition) occurring on federal lands or at a federal facility will usually be handed over to, and handled by, regular / local law enforcement agencies.

    In this case it all seems to have come down from the federal level, which strongly suggests the motivation involves a matter of federal-level concern.
     
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  28. kamalktk

    kamalktk Justified & Ancient

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    When someone was mailing anthrax to people via the postal service, investigators did shut down the post offices that had been involved. That would make it plausible, though there's of course no evidence of anything of the sort in this case currently.
     
  29. Pockinghorn

    Pockinghorn Fresh Blood

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    Well, that particular observatory is the last place you'd want to be spotless.

    Here's a thought. Perhaps the FBI mistook the sunspot observatory for the suns pot observatory.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018 at 11:00 PM
  30. Xanatic*

    Xanatic* Justified & Ancient

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