By Tim Binnall
An evacuation and subsequent shut down at the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico has left area residents scratching their heads and conspiracy theorists offering some truly fantastic suggestions for why it happened. The strangeness reportedly started last Thursday when the facility, which is located in the town of Sunspot, as well as a nearby post office were inexplicably closed citing unspecified safety concerns. Since then, some intriguing details about the closure have begun to emerge and they have raised more questions than answers.
Specifically, a local sheriff revealed that, for reasons unexplained, the FBI are somehow involved in the matter and their arrival at the site was rather odd. According to sheriff Benny House, the agency swiftly swooped in to evacuate and lock down the observatory as he and his colleagues watched in confusion. He recalled that "there was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers, but nobody would tell us anything."
Asked to be there to help with the evacuation, House and his colleagues eventually realized that they weren't really needed and so they left the scene. However, he observed that, at the time, there appeared to be no immediate threat. Meanwhile, the company that manages the observatory has been pretty cagey about the entire affair, refusing to say what the security issue is or even that the FBI is involved.
As one can imagine, the nature of the facility combined with the presence of federal agents has led to all manner of speculation as to what is going on at the observatory. Many suspicious individuals have posited that the closure of the site is somehow connected to a solar storm set to strike the planet this week. More imaginative individuals have even theorized that the observatory managed to discover aliens, presumably by accident, and that the FBI quickly descended upon the site in order to cover-up the Earth-shattering development.
Considering the clandestine way in which the closure is being handled, it seems unlikely that we'll ever truly know the exact circumstances which led to the facility being shuttered. That said, the group which runs the observatory says that it will re-open at some point in the future once whatever caused the incident is resolved. That's assuming, of course, that there isn't some kind of apocalyptic solar event or alien invasion about to unfold which will wipe out all of humanity.
Ironically, this is not the first conspiracy to be connected to the site as there actually happens to be a weird bit of alleged subterfuge involving the name of the community which hosts the observatory. Following the construction of the facility in the late 1940's, it became necessary to come up with something to call the area and then-director of the observatory, John Evans, asked his employees for suggestions. Despite promising that the name would be decided in a vote, his colleagues found it somewhat curious that his preferred choice of 'Sunspot' wound up winning as one worker musing in Evans' 1999 obituary that "we always thought the election was rigged."