Unexplained Shutdown of Sunspot Observatory by FBI

Mick West

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https://www.alamogordonews.com/stor...udcroft-closed-due-security-issue/1227788002/

Published 5:15 p.m. MT Sept. 7, 2018
SUNSPOT, NM – The Sunspot Observatory is temporarily closed due to a security issue at the facility that’s located 17 miles south of Cloudcroft in the Sacramento Mountains Friday, an Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) spokeswoman Shari Lifson said.

“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time,” Lifson said. “We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. It was our decision to evacuate the facility.”
...
Otero County Sheriff Benny House said the Otero County Sheriff’s Office was asked to standby.

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” House said. “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.”

He said he has a lot of unanswered question about what occurred at Sunspot.

“But for the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there,” House said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”
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The unexplained shut down has spawned a variety of conspiracy theories.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/601033739972512/permalink/1929632017112671/
#1 - that someone is after the 10 tons of mercury in the telescope. I am sure that's enough to poison a reservoir or two.
#2 - that the Air Force is field testing some energy weapon in an attempt to prove a theory about the Cuba diplomat attacks.
...
Or there is something approaching our sun that the feds dont want us to know about.
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
No information on their web site, just "unforeseen circumstances"
https://sunspot.solar/

SUNSPOT SOLAR OBSERVATORY TEMPORARILY CLOSED
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, however, due to unforeseen circumstances, the Sunspot Solar Observatory, including the site, is temporarily closed, until further notice. Thank you for your understanding - The Sunspot Team
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Sunspot is described as a town, having a Post Office, but it's an odd place. Just a loop of road on top of a mountain ridge with a great view.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/S...cea630514e555!8m2!3d32.7897222!4d-105.8202776
Metabunk 2018-09-13 13-47-08.jpg
There some houses, a campground, and a post office. But apparently they have evacuated the whole thing. There's only one road in and out, and the local tv showed that closed. So they must have evacuated everyone living there.

Metabunk 2018-09-13 13-52-34.jpg

I'd imagine it will be explained shortly, as there's loads of media attention. But it's interesting for now.
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
https://www.abqjournal.com/1219922/nm-solar-observatory-closed-authorities-mum.html

Apache Point Observatory is also in Sunspot, and apparently was not shut down at the same time, and staff there reports helicopter and road vehicle activity but no more answers than the solar observatory staff were given.

That does limit a few of the theories I've seen, like a crashed test craft of some sort from White Sands, some kind of weapons test, or an alien cover up. Seems that it would also eliminate a spill from the solar telescope's mercury float bearing (ten tons of mercury, even if not all of it was released it would have to be secured, and I've heard of larger areas being shut down for smaller mercury spills), but not a possible terrorist or theft threat against it.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Guy goes for a walk around the observatory.

Source: https://youtu.be/_AVdVBvSjcU?t=1m32s



Basically there's nobody there, nobody guarding anything. Some doors are open. Curious folk going up and looking around.

Very odd that it's a "security issue" but there's nobody there.

At 14:30 a woman says there's "nothing in [the houses]." I wonder it these were old houses for observatory/lab workers. How many people actually lived there?

This KOAT report says "Five families" have been evacuated. But there's about 40 houses there.
https://www.koat.com/article/reason...olar-observatory-remains-big-mystery/23118139
Metabunk 2018-09-14 11-22-03.jpg

He's been evacuated, but there's nothing to stop him just walking (or even driving) back up there. Just a bit of tape.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
This implies that it's a group of people who are of interest to the FBI, not the entire staff and not the site as it exists now. But a solar telescope has no secret technology, neither can it gather any secret information. Perhaps the site was being used for something other than astronomy - Project X. And it was something that used easily portable equipment that has been moved away. There's also evidence that it was something that involves "antennas."

https://www.alamogordonews.com/stor...udcroft-closed-due-security-issue/1227788002/
“But for the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there,” House said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”
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So I'm guessing a target group (associated with Project X) is under investigation, while the rest (the astronomy folk) are slowly being questioned and cleared. My guess is this is about a single person within the Project X group: a foreign spy or a domestic asset of a foreign country.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
the Washing Post article makes it sound like the staff voluntarily evacuated. The helicopter is not odd. and White Sands says it isn't connected to them.

House said his deputies spotted a Black Hawk helicopter in the area around the time the building was evacuated — although he said that is not uncommon.

Sunspot and Apache Point offer scenic views of the Tularosa Basin, which includes two sensitive military sites, including Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. A public affairs officer at White Sands said there was no testing or other activity at the range that would have prompted the evacuation in Sunspot.
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https://www.washingtonpost.com/worl...187f427e253_story.html?utm_term=.5753d230a454


Sounds like they got a "I'm gonna kill you all" threat from someone (ie ticked off ex spouse? ex employee) and they are waiting for the FBI to investigate the letter or phone call.

they call the fbi to report a threat. the fbi comes looks at the letter and suggests "you might want to leave for awhile until we can check this out".
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Sounds like they got a "I'm gonna kill you all" threat from someone (ie ticked off ex spouse? ex employee) and they are waiting for the FBI to investigate the letter or phone call.

they call the fbi to report a threat. the fbi comes looks at the letter and suggests "you might want to leave for awhile until we can check this out".

Reading the WaPo article makes it all just seem like bureaucratic slowness. There's a recent change in who runs the establishment, and maybe there's just nobody taking the initiative to clean up the mess.

I'd bet it's just a "credible threat" (anonymous bomb threat, or suchlike), and nobody knew what to do, and it escalated unnecessarily.

They do have guards there now, so at least someone is doing something.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
And the FBI did not shut it down, AURA did.
AURA Addressing Security Issue at NSO Facility

September 14, 2018

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is addressing a security issue at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) facility at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure until further notice. All other NSO facilities are open and operating normally. AURA, which manages Sacramento Peak with funding from the National Science Foundation, is working with the proper authorities on this issue.
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It's not even clear if the FBI were even really involved to any degree. It's all very second hand:

House, the sheriff, said that just before 10 a.m. Sept. 6, staffers at the Sunspot facility called to report that they were “evacuating the building” and asked if deputies could assist. He said a sergeant and a deputy were dispatched and told upon arrival that the FBI had been there earlier.

But neither staff nor the bureau would explain why the facility had to be vacated, House said. He said a volunteer fire chief claimed that the FBI had told him there had been a “credible threat” but would provide no details.
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Much ado about nothing, methinks.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Regarding the associated claim that six other solar observatories were shut down, that's entirely baseless, and seems to have come from someone finding six random web cams that were not working. In my experience It's 50/50 for any linked web-cam to still be working when I look at it. They tend to stop being maintained after a while.

It's being debunked even by UFO conspiracy theories like Linda Moulton Howe
https://www.earthfiles.com/2018/09/...ervatory-in-sunspot-nm-and-local-post-office/
Here are a few global solar observatories wrongly described as shut down along with the National Solar Observatory on Thursday, September 6, 2018. They WERE NOT shut down. My colleague Peter Levenda checked on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, to verify if any had been closed after the Sunspot Observatory was shut down by the FBI, on September 6th and none of these were:
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Mick West

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http://www.aura-astronomy.org/news/news.asp?newsID=389
On September 6th, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) made the decision to temporarily vacate the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico as a precautionary measure while addressing a security issue. The facility closed down in an orderly fashion and is now re-opening. The residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week.

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. AURA determined that moving the small number of on-site staff and residents off the mountain was the most prudent and effective action to ensure their safety.

In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th.
...
We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take.
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Graham2001

Active Member
Sadly conspiracy types like Coast2Coast AM's 'science' advisor are taking that announcement in the way they usually do with 'official statements' something to hype up into conspiracy .

This news release, while still very vague about the criminal investigation, implies that there was a dangerous criminal suspect on the mountain that federal officials were pursuing, and they evacuated to protect their employees.

This explanation still leaves serious questions. Why for example were local police kept in the dark about this investigation?
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https://behindtheblack.com/behind-t...statement-about-closure-of-solar-observatory/

I don't for the moment believe the authorities are trying to cover up anything, but conspiracy theoriests are expert in twisting statements to fit their preconceptions.
 

BobsYourUncle

New Member
I agree there has been a lot of twisting of the facts, it has been difficult to stay on top of it all. I have long thought this has to do with the sun, I just don't believe it is a security issue in this day and age of encrypted signals and other such methods of sneakery. That is just my un-substantiated opinion, I had no facts until now. I will preface the explanation of the chart below with further speculation. If this truly was a critical security situation, why was it just left wide open with no guards posted for a few days? If they took everything of value, why leave it closed, and then why add the guards only after people showed up with cameras?

Why was the maintenance guy allowed to stay behind, yet couldn't even enter his own home, he had to camp in a tent outside. Why was the director allowed in? Hes not part of any federal authority dealing with these types of things. That is just a few of the things that don't make sense. I will also add that even though 6 observatories were indeed not shut down, there was 6 hours of footage removed from some scopes.

Lastly, and the reason I made an account to post this post, I have been watching the solar wind data the past few days, and today the solar wind phase-I data was scrubbed for 7 hours, after that happened I checked the phase-II chart. I am seeing a huge anomaly on the 15th, biggest anomaly in what seems to be 21 years. I will attach screenshots of the 21 year chart as well as localized timeframe. I have been trying to get some input from any solar scientists.. but that is difficult as you imagine. Here are the charts.





I've attached the chart with the missing data.
 

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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
There are dozens of ground-based professional solar telescopes across the world plus innumerable amateurs. Not to mention the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The Dunn Solar Telescope has no unique abilities. Shutting it down would have no effect on what the world at large would know about some extraordinary thing happening to the Sun.
 
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Jim_Strong

New Member
http://www.aura-astronomy.org/news/news.asp?newsID=389

Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th

On September 6th, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) made the decision to temporarily vacate the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico as a precautionary measure while addressing a security issue. The facility closed down in an orderly fashion and is now re-opening. The residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week.

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. AURA determined that moving the small number of on-site staff and residents off the mountain was the most prudent and effective action to ensure their safety.

In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th. Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site, we are temporarily engaging a security service while the facility returns to a normal working environment.

We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take.
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sharpnfuzzy

Active Member
First hand account from someone who visited the site on Sept 15th with photos and video. Doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary. My money is on a meth lab.

https://theaviationist.com/2018/09/...in-new-mexico-on-saturday-this-is-our-report/


We Visited Sunspot National Solar Observatory in New Mexico on Saturday. This Is Our Report.

I was in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Saturday, September 15 for a commercial drone photography assignment. I was aware of the Sunspot, New Mexico solar observatory mystery, and, given that it was only 100 miles away from Las Cruces, I decided to see what I could find out after I completed my work. I didn’t expect to see anything spectacular. It had been a week since the initial incident, and I knew that security guards were at the site. Even so, the popularity of the story meant that there was still demand for reliable, unique new images of the facility.

When I arrived at the front gate, I was greeted by three uniformed, armed security officers. They were friendly, but said that they weren’t aware of how or why the facility had been evacuated. I recorded video and took photos near the gate. Several curious onlookers showed up in vehicles, and left while I was filming.

According to a security guard, one of the residents at the facility didn’t fully evacuate. He camped at the edge of the property, next to an unmarked campsite complete with a fire ring 20 meters from the main gate. By the time I got there, he had left the campsite and returned to his home. Apparently, he was frustrated with the evacuation and lack of updates. Sunspot is not simply the location of a telescope. It’s a self-sufficient town complete with its own post office. People have homes in Sunspot.

A Security guard informed me that the nearby Apache Peak Observatory grounds were open to the public, adding that I shouldn’t use my vehicle headlights after 7pm to avoid interfering with telescope operations. After a final chat with the guards, I drove back down the road from Sunspot, and turned onto a separate road that led to the observatory on Apache Peak.

Upon arrival, I parked in the guest lot, walked to an outcrop that overlooks the valley that cradles White Sands Missile Range, and spent several minutes taking photos. I was running out of daylight, so I didn’t walk onto the telescope grounds. Instead, I drove down the access road, parked, and hiked cross-country to the perimeter of the solar observatory in Sunspot. I spent several minutes recording video and taking photos of the Dunn telescope and surrounding buildings. It started to rain during the hike, which led to the development of a rainbow near the telescope.

I didn’t see any people, signs of an evacuation, or anything else that seemed unusual or notable. At sunset, I returned to my vehicle. As I traveled down one of the access roads, I passed several bow hunters, free-range cattle and deer.

I was satisfied with the images I brought back, but the ongoing mystery left me with a desire to remain, and continue investigating the area. Unfortunately, I had to go back to Tucson.
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NoParty

Senior Member.
First hand account from someone who visited the site on Sept 15th with photos and video. Doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary. My money is on a meth lab.

https://theaviationist.com/2018/09/...in-new-mexico-on-saturday-this-is-our-report/


We Visited Sunspot National Solar Observatory in New Mexico on Saturday. This Is Our Report.

I was in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Saturday, September 15 for a commercial drone photography assignment. I was aware of the Sunspot, New Mexico solar observatory mystery, and, given that it was only 100 miles away from Las Cruces, I decided to see what I could find out after I completed my work. I didn’t expect to see anything spectacular. It had been a week since the initial incident, and I knew that security guards were at the site. Even so, the popularity of the story meant that there was still demand for reliable, unique new images of the facility.

When I arrived at the front gate, I was greeted by three uniformed, armed security officers. They were friendly, but said that they weren’t aware of how or why the facility had been evacuated. I recorded video and took photos near the gate. Several curious onlookers showed up in vehicles, and left while I was filming.

According to a security guard, one of the residents at the facility didn’t fully evacuate. He camped at the edge of the property, next to an unmarked campsite complete with a fire ring 20 meters from the main gate. By the time I got there, he had left the campsite and returned to his home. Apparently, he was frustrated with the evacuation and lack of updates. Sunspot is not simply the location of a telescope. It’s a self-sufficient town complete with its own post office. People have homes in Sunspot.

A Security guard informed me that the nearby Apache Peak Observatory grounds were open to the public, adding that I shouldn’t use my vehicle headlights after 7pm to avoid interfering with telescope operations. After a final chat with the guards, I drove back down the road from Sunspot, and turned onto a separate road that led to the observatory on Apache Peak.

Upon arrival, I parked in the guest lot, walked to an outcrop that overlooks the valley that cradles White Sands Missile Range, and spent several minutes taking photos. I was running out of daylight, so I didn’t walk onto the telescope grounds. Instead, I drove down the access road, parked, and hiked cross-country to the perimeter of the solar observatory in Sunspot. I spent several minutes recording video and taking photos of the Dunn telescope and surrounding buildings. It started to rain during the hike, which led to the development of a rainbow near the telescope.

I didn’t see any people, signs of an evacuation, or anything else that seemed unusual or notable. At sunset, I returned to my vehicle. As I traveled down one of the access roads, I passed several bow hunters, free-range cattle and deer.

I was satisfied with the images I brought back, but the ongoing mystery left me with a desire to remain, and continue investigating the area. Unfortunately, I had to go back to Tucson.
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For a professional, that guy sure makes one snooze of a video.
After the intro I thought there might be some cool drone views in there, or something. Nope. Lotta nothing.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
More details have emerged. Fairly mundane, although the reason will probably raise yet more flags for the conspiracy world...

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...-fbi-child-porn-probe-documents-idUSKCN1M001P

(Reuters) - The mysterious 11-day closure of a New Mexico solar observatory stemmed from an FBI investigation of a janitor suspected of using the facility’s wireless internet service to send and receive child pornography, federal court documents showed on Wednesday.
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Edit to add: I meant mundane compared to the various theories of crashed spaceships, terrorists stealing mercury, energy weapons, hiding Nibiru, etc. Not trying to diminish the crime.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
This implies... not the entire staff and not the site as it exists now. But a solar telescope has no secret technology, neither can it gather any secret information. Perhaps the site was being used for something other than astronomy - Project X. And it was something that used easily portable equipment that has been moved away. There's also evidence that it was something that involves "antennas."

My guess is this is about a single person within the Project X group: a foreign spy or a domestic asset of a foreign country.

Well, I was close. But who would have guessed the nature of Project-X?
 
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