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Sunspot Observatory is set to reopen today

By T.K. Randall
September 17, 2018 · Comment icon 110 comments

What prompted the observatory's closure ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Samat K Jain
The facility, which was mysteriously closed by the FBI this month, is set to resume normal operations.
In a statement on Sunday, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) said:

"We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take."

"In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th."

The association also outlined plans to deploy a temporary security team for the reopening:

"Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site, we are temporarily engaging a security service while the facility returns to a normal working environment."
To date, all we know about the reason for the closure is that it involved some sort of "security issue" and a "law enforcement investigation of criminal activity."

Given the lack of specifics, the closure has prompted a wave of conspiracy theories online with social media users speculating that the observatory may have found evidence of extraterrestrial life.

According to Sunspot Solar Observatory Director and New Mexico State University astronomy professor R.T. James McAteer however, the truth is likely to be a lot more mundane.

"[The] telescope did not see aliens," he said, but added that "all data will be made public in its unaltered form, nothing is hidden or kept secret."

Perhaps, in time, the truth of what went down at the observatory will come out.

In the meantime, all we can do is speculate.

Source: Business Insider | Comments (110)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #101 Posted by Gromdor 6 years ago
From what I have been reading, he was the night janitor.  He would use the office network at night by setting up his laptop there in different offices to "spread his filth".  The guy who manages the observatory found the lap top and called the FBI.  They staked out the place and narrowed it to him.  They also took the lap top which made the janitor fret.  He started complaining about the place being unsecure and how it could be attacked.  The FBI then did the full shutdown.
Comment icon #102 Posted by aztek 6 years ago
a janitor did that? we have some it guys having problem doing simpler things. not to mention, their network is no doubt fire walled, and you need to have a log in to access it, a night janitor would not have that.  still not buying it
Comment icon #103 Posted by Gromdor 6 years ago
I'm thinking the janitor part was a choice on his part to further his crimes.  He hasn't been charged yet, so they aren't releasing his name.  But they did say he was under contract which means he could be doing it part-time.  I can see him defeating the firewall pretty easy.  Offices often leave memos and notes unattended and to be blunt, all you have to do is ask sometimes.  In construction all I have to do is say I need to access some email to download prints or send in some timesheets and the customer often just grants me access to their wi-fi.
Comment icon #104 Posted by aztek 6 years ago
that is not the same as network access,  2 very different things. you also have to have a profile created by admin. to be able to log in, to THEIR network. you must be logged in to even go on internet, not to mention work networks have restrictions, i can't even go to gun broker from my work network, let alone porn. did observatory has public internet access? actually never mind, those have lots of restrictions, he would not be able to go to porno sites on those.
Comment icon #105 Posted by Gromdor 6 years ago
Eh, maybe he just used offices that were still logged on.  Who knows.  The guy could be an IT expert for all we know at this stage.  It's not like it's going to disappear after all the attention shined on it this last week. It fits the criteria of a reasonable explanation at this point to me.  It's not like there have been any credible alternative theories short of x-files stuff.
Comment icon #106 Posted by aztek 6 years ago
or maybe it was not him at all.  it is not like current theory sounds any more credible, devil is in details.  i do not believe it has anything to do with aliens, but i do not buy janitor story either, btw all half decent networks lock your comp after 5-10 min of none use, 
Comment icon #107 Posted by Timothy 6 years ago
@aztek, pretty much everything you’ve posted in this thread has been pure paranoid conjecture or false claims. Why do you want it so badly to be something more than what it seems to be? IMHO, what’s being reported currently seems legitimate.  Read these if you can be bothered, and let me know what you think: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-new-mexico-observatory/new-mexico-observatory-closure-stemmed-from-fbi-child-porn-probe-documents-idUSKCN1M001P https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/20/new-mexico-solar-observatory-a-child-pornography-investigation-not-aliens-t... [More]
Comment icon #108 Posted by aztek 6 years ago
why? because i do not buy this b.s.? lamo. pretty much everything you posted on pretty much anything here  i find delusional and naive,   
Comment icon #109 Posted by Timothy 6 years ago
 Oh no. I hereby retract all claims ever made here and will now be shutting my account down forever.  You’ve called me out. It’s been fun guys. (Was your post more juicy before you edited it?)
Comment icon #110 Posted by Timothy 6 years ago
@aztek, sorry I’m back. Any chance you can answer my question from post #115 (the one with the links, just up there ). What do you think about those articles? (They’re just a quick, light read, which seem to wrap everything up in a neat little package)


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