A conspiracy theory that proof of alien life is being covered up is swirling after FBI agents swooped on a space observatory, evacuated it – and refused to explain why or what has happened. The Sunspot Solar Observatory usually spends its time looking at the Sun and trying to understand our celestial neighbor. But it has been banned from doing so for the past week, since federal agents secretly arrived and shut down the entire area.
Did the researchers spot something extraterrestrial? Was the solar telescope hacked by a foreign power and deployed to spy on, say, the state’s missile testing range? Or is there an innocuous explanation, suppressed only because of corporate and government resistance to transparency?
On Friday, the entrance to the National Solar Observatory was blocked by yellow crime scene tape and two security guards, who said even they had been kept in the dark. The guards, from Red Rock Security & Patrol in Las Cruces, N.M., did not give their names but said it was the first day the company was guarding the entrance and that only the “director and an assistant” were allowed in. There was no obvious sign of law enforcement activity. The solar observatory is about a 2½ -hour drive from Roswell, N.M., the site of an infamous crash in 1947 that the Air Force later said was an experiment designed to detect Soviet nuclear activity by monitoring sound waves. The incident sparked so much interest that there is now a UFO museum in the city.
“We don’t know anything. We’re just as curious as anyone else,” one guard said.
Its website only says that the shutdown happened “due to unforeseen circumstances” and that the facility would remain closed “until further notice”. The observatory, which is situated in the Sacramento Mountains around 200km from Roswell, was established back in 1958 and hosts several telescopes that are used to study the Sun. An update to its website states that the facility has been closed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Local police said they had received reports that FBI agents arrived in a Blackhawk helicopter and swooped around the observatory. They would not even tell law enforcement why they were there, police said.
The local sheriff’s office said it had no explanation of what had happened, but suggested that there was “a lot of stuff going on”. “The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” Otero County Sheriff Benny House told ABC 7. “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 also described the mysterious scene as the FBI swooped on the facility. “For the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there.
“There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”
The mystery and the observatory’s usual work has led to theories across the internet suggesting the shutdown came after scientists spotted something they shouldn’t have. One prominent YouTube channel suggested it had accidentally seen an alien craft, for instance. Conspiracy theorists have been encouraged by the fact the the observatory is only around 200km from the famous Roswell landing site.
In 1947, a UFO dropped fell down to Earth there that prompted stories that it was an alien craft. Officials initially said it was a weather balloon but it later became clear it was actually part of secretive nuclear testing – but some still claim it was something more extraterrestrial.
“AURA – our management organisation – is addressing a security issue at Sunspot Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure,” the NSO said. That post was responded to with a flurry of comments from followers who asked why the NSO was continuing to keep the facts secret. Many mentioned alien conspiracy theories, or speculation that observations had shown there was something wrong with the sun.
Another message on the observatory’s website references the intense interest in the closure and says that administrators are working hard to open the facility again.
The observatory posted this message to its website and social media platforms:
“On Thursday Sept 6, AURA made the decision to temporarily close Sunspot. The Sunspot Solar Observatory continues to work closely with AURA in order to allow for us to reopen as soon as possible. With the excitement this closure has generated, we hope you will come and visit us when we do reopen, and see for yourself the services we provide for science and public outreach in heliophysics. If you have any questions about the science we perform at the telescope, or about the outreach we provide through our Visitors Center, please contact our Director, Dr McAteer at firstname.lastname@example.org”.