What is going on at the solar observatory?

They are landing the Roswell saucer.

Let’s try this. Supposition one. The lab deals with toxic waste as a byproduct of its activities. Supposition two. The lab has been playing fast and loose with disposal requirements/paperwork and the EPA gets wind. Supposition three. The EPA orders the place to be raided, and is worried about potential contamination leaking to the surrounding area, like the town of Cloudfront.

Would any mercury waste be generated in normal operation of the facility, from say the gigantic float bearing that the entire set of machinery comprising the optical path rests upon? Could the mercury be dimethylated through normal use—contamination with organic solvents or lubricants?—and thereby lead to a potential contamination hazard, a la Dr. Karen Wetterhahn? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Wetterhahn

It’s really bizarre that the lab’s been shut down this long. Is Kitt Peak still doing solar astronomy?

It’s a SOLAR observatory. What do they do at a solar observatory? Study the sun.

Many of the oldest religions are oriented around the sun:

What do you do when you find hard, scientific evidence for a Solar deity but live in a society oriented toward Christianity: YOU COVER UP THE DISCOVERY!

No, they do not.

Clearly the scientists at the facility have opened a new gate to the Upside Down. Better stock up on Eggos.

Dr. R.T. James McAteer, the Director of the user’s consortium at SUNSPOT has stated that the problem is nothing to do with the mercury float. There is no spill or any concern of that sort. We’re not close, but I know him to be a reliable chap.


“The release also stated that the investigation involved a suspect who AURA officials believed posed a threat to the safety of staff and residents that live nearby.”

Thanks, Ebird.

Geez, everybody who has ever read a comic book, or seen a Bond Movie, knows what is going on.

Step 1: Take over an observatory
Step 2: Hijack a Satellite
Step 3:Beam Death ray From observatory off of satellite blowing up Eiffel tower and large portion of Paris
Step 4: Contact to U.N to demand ransom.

One million dollars!!! (Sorry, somebody had to.)

I know a couple of solar physicists with some affiliation with the NSO and they assure me the reason for the closure is more mundane than any wild speculations. Though I don’t know for sure if they know the reason themselves.

A few random thoughts & info:

  • The Sac Peak observatory is not exactly cutting edge. I believe the NSO (National Solar Observatory) has transferred ownership of the observatory (or about to do so) to a local university because all of NSO’s resources are now directed at their new telescope in Hawaii.

  • Sac Peak is close to the White Sands Missile Range, but there are mountains that are closer. In particular, the overlook at San Augustin Pass, along US Route 70, has a great view of the range. Route 70 is a major road, there’s no way they’d close that road for long.

  • I hear the village at Sac Peak has a lot of abandoned/disused buildings because NSO is scaling down the operation there. So it may be an ideal hideout for nefarious groups.

  • The main telescope at Sac Peak has a mercury bearing system - i.e. a set of mirrors floating on top of gallons of liquid mercury. So a potential source of major contamination. Though I don’t see why they would keep that a secret.

  • Shutting down Sac Peak has very little impact on solar physics. They have done cutting edge research there in the past, but the capabilities are now duplicated in other observatories. And satellite observations are more important these days.

This EPA? If you’d said “brought in backhoes to bury the stuff”, you might have had me.

Now THAT is a reasonable explanation.

Here’s the explanation, such as it is.

Kinda boring. Too bad.

Unless the criminal activity was perpetrated by a SASQUATCH. We have no reason to assume they are law-abiding.

Hey!!! I had nothing to do with it…

It still seems very odd. Takes this bit:

So closing the place, having the FBI move in with a helicopter, etc. isn’t alerting the suspect that something is up???

And not working with local LE is due to … what exactly??

From Reuters:


Yep. And apparently when he discovered his laptop was missing, he started dropping hints about a serial killer in the area and lax security at the observatory.

So you have a part time employee involved in very skeevy activity, has mental issues, and is making threats and you don’t work with the local sheriff. You know, the person in charge of LE outside the lab. Where the guy lives and does most of his work.

That’s some fine FBI work there, Lou.

It’s a small rural town, and his parents owned the cleaning agency. Local law enforcement in such circumstances can be operating under pressures that outsiders have no way to understand. It can be impossible for them to act impartially. Or they might just be unwilling to do so.

You can spend an extra six months to try and suss that out, while more children are being harmed, or you can call in the FBI and deal with the situation immediately.

Also, the LE unit which will be supporting the prosecution generally wants to be the one collecting and protecting the evidence.