Sunspot, New Mexico is one of the United States' unique phenomena - a settlement or village named after it's primary purpose. In this case, the purpose of Sunspot the village is to house solar research scientists who use the Sunspot telescope, more properly named the National Solar Observatory's Dunn Solar Telescope.
It has one mission - to stare at the sun so scientists can observe it. And, since 1950, that has been the sole business of this little community, perched at an elevation of 9,200 feet above sea level on the escarpment of the Sacramento Mountains.
But today, the village is empty, the solar scope unused and no one is allowed on the premises. This all happened under very mysterious circumstances just a week ago.
Corners of the internet are atwitter about a possible alien coverup after reports that a Blackhawk helicopter and federal agents swooped in and inexplicably evacuated a remote part of New Mexico, including a prominent solar observatory.
FBI agents showed up at the Sunspot solar observatory in tiny Sunspot, New Mexico, on Friday and shut down the facility, evacuating the local area, including the town post office.
"There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers, but nobody would tell us anything," Otero County Sheriff Benny House told the Alamogordo Daily News. "I don't know why the FBI would get involved so quick and not tell us anything."
Five days later, the observatory's website confirms the entire facility is closed to both staff and the public until further notice.
"The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time," AURA spokesperson Shari Lifson said in an emailed statement. "It's a temporary evacuation of the facility. We will open it up as soon as possible."
The FBI field offices in Albuquerque and in El Paso, Texas, didn't respond to a request for comment.
The Cnet piece goes on to note how the lack of explanation from the authorities prompted some interested parties to speculate that some sort of alien coverup is involved with this.
The situation is admittedly most curious. The telescope is quite remarkable. It rises 13 stories (136 feet) above the ground, but it also extends some 230 feet below ground as well, making the total length 330 feet (100 meters). It weighs more than 250 tons, and it is suspended from the top of its tower by a mercury-filled float bearing. This precision instrument observes the sun, so it is used during the daytime, and not at night.
View of the Tularosa Basin, White Sands National Monument and Missile Range, and Holloman AFB from Sunspot, New Mexico.
As to why this evacuation occurred, no one knows. The site is totally civilian. Anyone can visit this place. While it offers a grand view from the escarpment over the Tularosa Basin one mile below, an area the size of the state of Connecticut, and while that view does encompass much of the White Sands Missile Range, and Holloman Air Force base near Alamogordo, neither of these places are especially secret.
This incident is gaining more and more coverage, like this snippet on September 13th's Tucker Carlson program:
Perhaps even stranger is that according to the talk in the area, the observatory staff have not been seen or heard from since they were evacuated. This detail, printed on Reddit, may be subject to all the fantasy that can crop up in such a place, but some things are known as well, such as the post office being rerouted to the village of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, about 18 miles distant, and the program currently running the Dunn Solar Telescope has been told only to wait until further notice.
Six days ago, federal agents swooped into the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico and closed everything, including the nearby post office, without warning or reason. The local authorities were called in to help with the evacuation process but have been left in the dark from the first. The post office was rerouted to Cloudcroft, about 18 miles away, and, according to gossip, the observatory staff working that day haven't been heard from since. Everyone from AURA (the program currently running the NSO) to the county police were simply told to wait until further notice. Despite pressure from the locals, police, and news outlets, the agents and their bureau refuse to elucidate. Probably the most mysterious thing about this, though, is that it's still ongoing and it seems like the FBI is doing their very best to keep this in near total media blackout.
I heard about the closure the other night when my friend, who works down at Apache Point Observatory (also in New Mexico), texted me about it. I was driving home, jamming out in my car, thinking of nothing in particular when I got the notification. I remember the way my mood just...dropped. One second I was happy and fine, the next it felt like I'd just gotten sucker punched in the gut. I remember pulling into a random parking lot, killing my engine, and just letting the panic overtake me. What I was feeling was true fear. The kind of fear that stops you dead and congeals your blood...
The rest of the entry reads like a science fiction novel, and while it is fascinating, the speculation it raises is probably beyond the scope of this piece. But what is known is that this Solar telescope is presently shut down. Going to the website gives a message that the site is shut down until further notice, but again, with no explanation.
Aliens? Probably not. Solar flare? Who knows. Angry Democrats trying to impeach President Trump? Maybe.
A mystery? Definitely.