Some people theorized that the state-of-the-art technology inside the facility in the Sacramento Mountains had spotted something that should be kept away from public eyes, such as extraterrestrial life, UFOs or signs of the sun gradually switching off, The Independent wrote.
In a statement posted on the observatory’s Facebook page on Sunday, the observatory apologized for “the continued closure of the facilities.”
“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is addressing a security issue at the National Solar Observatory facility at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure,” the statement said.
“AURA, which manages Sacramento Peak with funding from the National Science Foundation, is working with the proper authorities on this issue. We have no further comment at this time,” it added.
The statement set off a flurry of comments, with followers wondering why the NSO refused to come clean about what had happened.
“Why don’t you just tell us what is going on?” wrote one. “This is not cool. FBI needs to be frank.”
Observatory officials have not confirmed media reports that the FBI was involved in the shutdown.
“It was our decision to evacuate the facility,” AURA spokeswoman Shari Lifson said, according to the Alamagordo Daily News. “I am actually not sure (when the facility was vacated) but it will stay vacated until further notice,” he added.
The Sunspot National Observatory, which is run by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), was evacuated on September 6.
AURA says they ordered the evacuation but, oddly, that they also aren't sure when exactly it was vacated.
When it was shut down, the FBI came in but "refused" to tell local authorities "what's going on," Otero County Sheriff Benny House said, adding that the bureau told his department to stand by while they evacuated the building.