Something strange is happening at the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico, and there's only one thing we know for certain: It's not not an alien.
The solar observatory and a nearby post office have both been evacuated and closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances.” But the reasons why the facility was vacated — and exactly when it was vacated — still remain a mystery to the public.
“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,” a cryptic message on the observatory’s website says. “Thank you for your understanding.”
The story gets even more mysterious. Otero County Sheriff Benny House told the Alamogordo Daily News that his department has no idea what’s going on and has been asked to remain on standby during the facility’s evacuation. He also said the FBI is involved.
“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” House said. “We’ve got people up there that requested us to stand by 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.”
Beyond that, House has no idea what’s happening, although he noted that a Blackhawk helicopter has been circling the area.
“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,” he said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas, and work crews on towers, but nobody would tell us anything.”
House said that officers went to the facility to evacuate it but were not given any specifics about why.
“They wanted us up there to help evacuate, but nobody would tell us anything,” he said. “We went up there and everything was good. There was no threat. Nobody would identify any specific threat. We hung out for a little while, then we left. No reason for us to be there. Nobody would tell us what we’re supposed to be watching out for.”
The FBI is directing all inquiries about Sunspot to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), which manages the observatory.
"The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is addressing a security issue at the National Solar Observatory facility at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure. AURA, which manages Sacramento Peak with funding from NSF, is working with the proper authorities on this issue. We have no further comment at this time," AURA spokesperson Shari Lifson told VICE News.
We can say for sure, though, that the FBI and whoever else is involved in the observatory’s shutdown are doing a terrible job of not stirring rumors that the facility has made extraterrestrial contact.
Cover image: People view the solar eclipse at 'Top of the Rock' observatory at Rockefeller Center, August 21, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.