FBI mysteriously close observatory in New Mexico
The Sunspot Solar Observatory, located in the vicinity of the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico was closed about an unspecified ‘security problem.’
A New Mexico observatory that was temporarily closed about a secret security problem is set to reopen on Monday after the closure led to various theories, the officials said.
The Sunspot Solar Observatory, located in the vicinity of the Sacramento Mountains, is no longer faced with a threat to the safety of personnel, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) said in a statement Sunday. The facility had been closed since Sept. 6.
“Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the resulting expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the website, we are temporarily deploying a security service, while the facility returns to a normal working environment,” the statement said.
It is unclear what the threat to the safety of the observatory. The FBI referred all questions to the association.
“We acknowledge that the lack of communication, while the facility was cleared was about and frustrating for some. However, our wish to provide additional information had to be weighed against the risk that, if distributed in time, the news alert would be the accused and in the way of the judicial investigation. That was a risk we cannot take,” officials said.
The temporary closure and reports of the FBI was involved, led to wild speculations about the reason.
Otero County Sheriff Benny House told the Alamogordo daily News the sheriff’s office was asked to stand by and said that the FBI was involved.
“The FBI refuses to tell us what’s going on,” House told the newspaper. “We have people there (Sunspots) that asked us to stand by while they evacuate. No one would really elaborate on any of the circumstances why. The FBI were there. What their purpose was, no one will say.”
House said that there are a lot of unanswered questions about Sunspots closure.
“But for the FBI to do that quickly and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of things happen,” House told the newspaper. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a lot of people around antennas and work crews on the towers, but no one would tell us anything.”
Guards of the Red Rock Security, guarding the perimeter of the observatory of the past week as a result of the large influx of visitors since word of the facility’s closure, according to the Alamogordo Daily News. A guard told the newspaper at least 35 people had seen was on Friday.
Authorities evacuated all employees of the site, including four of the New Mexico State University. About a dozen residents around the site were evacuated, and the U. S. Postal Service decided to evacuate workers, according to the newspaper.
The Sunspot Solar Observatory is located atop Sacramento Peak and overlooks the Tularosa Basin, which includes the city of Alamogordo, Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range, and White Sands National Monument.
The telescope at the observatory was originally built by the U.S. air force and was later transferred to the National Solar Observatory. The one-of-a-kind telescope produces some of the sharpest images of the sun available for the world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.