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Solar observatory in New Mexico reopens after mysterious evacuation, conspiracy theories remain

Solar observatory in New Mexico reopens after mysterious evacuation, conspiracy theories remain

Video by KOAT Albuquerque

SUNSPOT – The National Solar Observatory facility in Sunspot has reopened following an evacuation ordered by the FBI on Sept. 6.


“Everything’s back up and running with as much normalcy as we can expect. We’re starting right where we left off, and we’re going to keep going,” said Sunspot Solar Observatory Director and New Mexico State University astronomy professor R.T. James McAteer.

Employees have not been told what prompted the evacuation but are expecting a staff meeting Tuesday, with a news conference likely to follow sometime this week, said Heidi Sanchez, the education and public outreach coordinator of the Sunspot Astronomy and Visitors Center.

Staff was anticipating a line of news vans and curiosity seekers following the 11-day shutdown, but in the two hours after opening at 9 a.m., there were few visitors or media, Sanchez said.

“Now that we’re officially open and you don’t have to sneak on, it’s not such a draw. I anticipate probably this weekend (will be busier),” she said. The evacuation

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the organization that oversees the observatory, reported Sunday that the site had been evacuated due to "law enforcement investigation of criminal activity" at Sacramento Peak, the mountaintop on which the observatory is located.

Authorities determined there was no risk to staff and that regular work could commence on Monday, the release stated. The National Solar Observatory in Sunspot reopened Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, following an evacuation o… – Dylan Taylor-Lehman/Daily News Red Rock Security guard Angel Escalante stands in front of the Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor’s Cente… – Dylan Taylor-Lehman/Daily News Residences at the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, pictured here Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, have … – Dylan Taylor-Lehman/Daily News “AURA was concerned the suspect may pose a threat to the people […]


About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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