What’s Happening In Sunspot?

The National Solar Observatory is located, appropriately, in Sunspot, New Mexico, on Sacramento Peak. It was closed by the FBI on September 6 and the employees told to stay home until further notice. Even the Otero County Sheriff doesn’t know what’s going on.

James McAteer, a New Mexico State University professor who is also the director of the Sunspot Solar Observatory said the “telescope did not see aliens. All data will be made public in its unaltered form. Nothing is hidden or kept secret.” (Source)

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which runs the observatory, issued a statement saying

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is addressing a security issue at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) facility at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure until further notice. All other NSO facilities are open and operating normally. AURA, which manages Sacramento Peak with funding from the National Science Foundation, is working with the proper authorities on this issue.

The FBI is not commenting.

My guess is that someone has made a threat against the observatory or its personnel. That person may be inside or outside the observatory community. But not aliens or a sunspot that will destroy the Earth.

Photo from Space.com.

And Open Thread!

121 replies
  1. 1
    TenguPhule says:

    But not aliens or a sunspot that will destroy the Earth.

    That’s what the Sunspots want you to believe!

    ReplyReply
  2. 2
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    Bullshit! It’s aliens!

    ReplyReply
  3. 3
    TenguPhule says:

    James McAteer, a New Mexico State University professor who is also the director of the Sunspot Solar Observatory said the “telescope did not see aliens. All data will be made public in its unaltered form. Nothing is hidden or kept secret.”

    This is a suspiciously specific denial.

    ReplyReply
  4. 4
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    But not aliens

    Deep state! Deep state!

    ReplyReply
  5. 5
  6. 6
    Betty Cracker says:

    Reminds me of “Knowing” — the movie about aliens and the heat-death of the earth starring Nicholas Cage. IIRC, scientists kept everyone in the dark as long as possible to prevent mass panic! ☀️🔥😱

    ReplyReply
  7. 7
    Keith P. says:

    WITCH HUNT!

    ReplyReply
  8. 8
    germy says:

    My wife’s cardiologist prescribed a weird monitor that she has to wear on her chest for a month. It connects wirelessly to a smartphone that records whatever info it’s picking up.

    The monitor has a continuous flashing blue light.

    Last night, during a moment of intimacy, I told her I felt like I was making love to a light house.

    Her laughter woke the cat, who came upstairs to see what was going on, saw us, and then returned downstairs shaking her head.

    ReplyReply
  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    Resolution clear enough to see Helios’ chariot pulling the Sun across the sky finally achieved.

    ReplyReply
  10. 10
    raven says:

    @germy: tmi

    ReplyReply
  11. 11
    Chip Daniels says:

    “Please, space aliens- You’re our only hope!”

    ReplyReply
  12. 12

    But not aliens or a sunspot that will destroy the Earth.

    You’re no fun!

    Open thread? I got a job offer in New York I’ll probably take.

    ReplyReply
  13. 13
    Antonius says:

    Who got to you, Cheryl? :)

    ReplyReply
  14. 14
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    @germy: Now that’s what I call a ‘blue light special’!

    ReplyReply
  15. 15

    @Major Major Major Major: Whoa! Bouncing from one coast to the other!

    ReplyReply
  16. 16
    Schlemazel says:

    I hate being late to the party! the best joke, “I’m not saying aliens . . . but aliens” is already taken. Dang it!

    Also late to the last thread but an important note. Dump was whining how Muller had spent $17 million on his witch hunt (when in fact it was much less than that). Well, just today Mueller enrichd the Federal coffers to the tune of $46 million thanks to the confiscation from Manafool. That is winning I would not get tired of

    ReplyReply
  17. 17
    Anonymous At Work says:

    @Major Major Major Major: They didn’t mention sunspots in their denial…

    ReplyReply
  18. 18
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Cool. New York is different that SF, you know.

    ReplyReply
  19. 19
    West of the Rockies says:

    @germy:

    LOL!

    ReplyReply
  20. 20
    J R in WV says:

    James McAteer, a New Mexico State University professor who is also the director of the Sunspot Solar Observatory said the “telescope did not see aliens. All data will be made public in its unaltered form. Nothing is hidden or kept secret.”

    To me, this specific denial is proof positive that they did indeed see aliens, or something so extraordinary, so profoundly strange, that it might be calming if it was just aliens. All accusations are projections, right?

    ReplyReply
  21. 21
    Gin & Tonic says:

    “That’ = “than”.

    Maybe you can take a couple of weeks off between jobs and fix the goddamn edit function.

    ReplyReply
  22. 22
    Schlemazel says:

    @Chip Daniels:
    You are not wrong. I am sort of hoping it is aliens. Even if they are the “Independence Day” or “Mars Attacks” type. Would not do as much damage as hair furor

    ReplyReply
  23. 23
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Ease up yanqui.

    ReplyReply
  24. 24
    Schlemazel says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    The city of NY? I would have loved to work/live there when I was a bit younger. It would still be an interesting place to live if I had the money. The State, however if Kentucky with better P.R. Did some work for the government & 60 miles from the gravity of the city it is shocking how backward the place is.

    Good luck however you decide.

    ReplyReply
  25. 25

    @Cheryl Rofer: @Gin & Tonic: that’s rather the point, SF is an unpleasant place to live.

    ReplyReply
  26. 26
    Luthe says:

    THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE

    ReplyReply
  27. 27
    NotMax says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Excellent.

    Good-bye Rice-a-Roni, hello kugel.

    ReplyReply
  28. 28
    NDD says:

    Seriously — I am going with FISA warrant.

    It explains the silence of the Observatory and the local sheriffs’ office, and sending everybody home until the FBI gets done with its sweep. That the FBI apparently inspected a telescope itself makes me think that it involves the receiving or sending of SigInt and involves an employee or contractor.

    ReplyReply
  29. 29
    Fernando Bueno says:

    I’ll bet Art Bell is at this very moment trying to claw his way out of his grave. “Gimme that mike! I told you they’re coming!”

    ReplyReply
  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    “Observatory detects honest Republican, immediately taken off line until the obvious fault is corrected.”

    ReplyReply
  31. 31
    trollhattan says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    Congrats! Options are nice.

    ReplyReply
  32. 32
    Doug R says:

    Don’t worry, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory has been monitoring the sun CONTINUOUSLY longer than anywhere else on earth.
    http://www.spaceweather.gc.ca/index-en.php

    ReplyReply
  33. 33
    Luthe says:

    @Major Major Major Major: What does Mr. M^4 think of this switch?

    ReplyReply
  34. 34
  35. 35
    SFAW says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    Bullshit! It’s aliens!

    Congress better provide the funds to build that big, BEAUTIFUL Mini Dyson Sphere wall, STAT.

    ReplyReply
  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @Baud: I meant congrats.

    ReplyReply
  37. 37
    Schlemazel says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    My grandparents moved to SF in the 50’s (lived in the Height!) and I fell in love with the city. I visited in the 60s (pre-68) and again in the 80s & 90s. I would have moved there in a heartbeat if the Mrs would have considered it (she has an unnatural fear of earthquakes – would not even consider vacationing there). But returning several times since 2000 & I would not want to live there now. The whole town has changed & not for the better. It is not a good place anymore I am afraid.

    BTW – I convinced her to come with me on a business trip 3 years ago so, of course, there was an earthquake while we were there. A tiny one but I am sure it was just for her benefit :)

    ReplyReply
  38. 38
    Mike in NC says:

    Putin’s cyberwarfare in action again.

    ReplyReply
  39. 39
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I got a job offer in New York I’ll probably take

    Congratulations!

    ReplyReply
  40. 40
    Lee Hartmann says:

    I have visited that observatory several times. It’s a beautiful place. And it did (and maybe still does) good work.

    ReplyReply
  41. 41

    @Luthe: he’s been wanting to move there for a while actually. But now of course it just dawned on him that it’s a logistical nightmare.

    And thanks everyone who said/says congrats!

    ReplyReply
  42. 42
    MattF says:

    Wonder if we’re gonna build a wall to keep out the aliens. That would mean sending all the ICE agents out into space, right? Hmm.

    ReplyReply
  43. 43
    dmsilev says:

    Space Force!

    ReplyReply
  44. 44
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Baud:

    I thought it was something like “Plastics!” in The Graduate. “Contests!”

    ReplyReply
  45. 45
    PhoenixRising says:

    You know you are too deep in your state’s state politics when your first thought is: whose district is that in?

    Aliens. Or some weirdo threatening the federal facility because it’s federal.

    ReplyReply
  46. 46
    The Dangerman says:

    I’m guessing the SMOD Twitter page is on fire right now.

    Seriously, if there were an asteroid coming a wee bit too close, would this place pick it up? I have no idea how far out they look (time, not distance). For example, if we are doomed before the 2020 election, will we have to listen to Trump claiming to be the last and best President until, ya know, SMOD smokes us?

    ReplyReply
  47. 47
    jl says:

    Sunspots? What Sunspots? We are at one of the minimum sunspot periods in recorded history.
    Clearly, The Fearsome Four Horsemen and a Apocalypse, Obama, Biden, H Clinton and John Kerry and taken over the observatory to shut down sunspots, to kill the sun and destroy the earth. Why? Because they are evil and they hate our freedoms, and Mueller is about to shut them down.
    QAnon will give the scoop. Not sure I trust Rofer any more.

    ReplyReply
  48. 48
    James E Powell says:

    Okay, so not aliens, but maybe a meteor or a stray asteroid?

    ReplyReply
  49. 49
    Anotherlurker says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Moving, in general, is a logistical nightmare. I’m in the process of moving from Florida to California and the process of selecting what comes with me, what gets given away and what gets trashed is exhausting.
    I’m single and not too attached to objects. Everything I’m taking me has to fit on a roof rack or a bumper mounted carrier bag, on my Prius. I can’t imagine how a family could execute such a move.

    ReplyReply
  50. 50
    TenguPhule says:

    Republicans still tormenting the children.

    Warning FTFNYT link.

    A court-imposed deadline for reuniting “tender-age” children separated from their parents at the border came and went long ago. But a 3-year-old girl from El Salvador is going on her sixth month in a federal immigration shelter, one of dozens of migrant children stranded in the system because authorities have determined they cannot be returned to their parents.

    Jose Atilio Barrera Hernandez, who was taken into custody when he crossed into California with his daughter Marta in March, has been deemed “ineligible” to be released and regain custody of the girl, apparently because of two alcohol-related offenses that occurred more than a dozen years ago.

    I hate these Nazis so fucking much.

    ReplyReply
  51. 51
    dmsilev says:

    @The Dangerman: This observatory is dedicated to looking at the Sun. The sorts of instruments that you need in order to usefully study a massively bright object that follows a well understood track in the sky are basically exactly what you don’t want to use to do survey searches for dim asteroids.

    ReplyReply
  52. 52
    Bill Arnold says:

    Will comment on the OP later (it’s catnip for me. :-)

    Good piece in The Atlantic on hurricanes and rainfall:
    Florence Will Drop an Inconceivable Amount of Water (Robinson Meyer, 2018/09/14)

    This level of rainfall is almost without precedent. Only last year—when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston—did the National Weather Service even make it possible for the color scheme of its maps to display 20 inches of rain. Now, it’s had to pull out those deep purples and whites again.

    In other words, Florence seems strangely reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey: an exceptionally powerful hurricane in its own right that nonetheless wrought most of its damage through storm surge and endless, flooding rains.

    Any news yet on coal ash dumps and manure lagooons?
    (Story: my father claimed to be the first to use the word “lagoon” for this sort of pond (the milder version, more like catchbasins), in the 1950s, big construction industry, probably inspired by “Creature From the Black Lagoon”)

    ReplyReply
  53. 53
    JPL says:

    @Major Major Major Major: That is exciting news! I was hoping for Roger Stone’s arrest, but still that’s the second best thing.
    Stone is my pick for a game I play in my mind, titled Which witch.

    ReplyReply
  54. 54
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Fake news!!

    If it exists at all, it’s a creation of Trump’s superior mind. Or so Rudy told me.

    ReplyReply
  55. 55
    TenguPhule says:

    Trump tweet warns against spreading false news about hurricanes — a day after he tweeted false news about Hurricane Maria

    Sadly, not the Onion.

    Early Friday morning, Trump urged Americans not to spread rumors or false information about the impending Hurricane Florence — exactly one day after the president himself did just that about Hurricane Maria.

    Trump retweeted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement that it had set up a “rumor control page” to help keep the storm facts straight.

    “During disasters, it’s critical to avoid spreading false information. Always check with official sources before sharing,” read the FEMA tweet, which Trump shared shortly before 8 a.m.

    He also retweeted two other messages from FEMA, one in Spanish and one in English, advising residents that “Today is the last day to evacuate” and that “your window of time to leave is closing rapidly.”

    Except, by the time Trump shared the post, the information was stale. If residents in the storm’s path were to heed this call Friday, they’d be leaving their homes as a life-threatening storm raged outside.

    We are truly living in the dumbest timeline.

    ReplyReply
  56. 56
    Calouste says:

    @TenguPhule: But all the stuff Manafort did doesn’t count because it was so long ago, like 8 years or so, right?

    ReplyReply
  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @Major Major Major Major: My niece did the coastal jump, and she is happy living in NYC.

    ReplyReply
  58. 58
    Yutsano says:

    @Major Major Major Major: MAZEL TOV! Gonna blame this for my desire to make rugelach.

    @Keith P.:

    WITCH HUNT!

    That’s one thread down.

    ReplyReply
  59. 59
    TenguPhule says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Any news yet on coal ash dumps and manure lagooons?

    Fairly certain they’re all overrunniing and are now part of the general landscape.

    ReplyReply
  60. 60
    Schlemazel says:

    @dmsilev:
    STOP TRYING TO CHEER ME UP!

    We are not going to be ‘saved’ by a giant meteor.

    ReplyReply
  61. 61
    kindness says:

    Rats! I was rooting for aliens. The nice ones.

    ReplyReply
  62. 62
    Van Buren says:

    Coming on the heels of the creation of the Space Force, it’s obvious that something is up.
    PS I am not a crank.

    ReplyReply
  63. 63
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @Schlemazel: Well, I live in SF, and I still like it just fine. The city faces a number of challenges, to be sure, but what city doesn’t?

    ReplyReply
  64. 64
    TenguPhule says:

    Its official, Berkeley’s police are worse then the crooks.

    The records, obtained by police accountability group Lucy Parsons Labs and reported by the East Bay Express, shed light on how officials internally have defined and justified the social media policy for protests. Officials said the “social media-driven protests” have created the need for a “Twitter protocol for mug shots” and acknowledged that the tweets would get “broad national exposure”. One police email had the subject line, “Info flow from Jail to Twitter.”

    The policy also made clear that police would post mugshots on Twitter only when the arrests were “protest related”, drawing criticisms that the practice was aimed at discouraging free speech activities.

    “They are just trying to punish people who haven’t had a trial,” said Blake Griffith, a Democratic Socialists of America activist whose mugshot was posted on Twitter last month. “They don’t really care whether or not we actually did anything wrong. They just care that they look good and that their response looks publicly justified.”

    One protocol document officials wrote last year said police should post the name, age, city of residence, charges and booking photos on Twitter, noting that they would be “quickly reprinted across television, online and print media platforms”. Police received more than 8,000 retweets, 11,000 “likes” and 1.7m “impressions” (times people saw the tweets) in one case, the document said.

    “They considered the likes and retweets, but they didn’t count the number of death threats that were made in the replies – and the rape threats,” said Griffith, who was cited for misdemeanor vandalism, but hasn’t been charged.

    Can’t say they did Nazi this coming.

    ReplyReply
  65. 65
    TenguPhule says:

    @kindness:

    The nice ones.

    Those are precisely the ones we have to worry about dropping the asteroids on us to prevent us from leaving the planet.

    ReplyReply
  66. 66
    TenguPhule says:

    @Schlemazel:

    We are not going to be ‘saved’ by a giant meteor.

    It’ll be an asteroid.

    ReplyReply
  67. 67
    dmsilev says:

    @kindness: It’s a cookbook!

    ReplyReply
  68. 68
    TenguPhule says:

    For many in the town of Uranus, Missouri, the title of the town’s new newspaper is taking some time to digest.

    This week publishers announced the launch of the Uranus Examiner, a new local paper in Pulaski County in the southern US state. It quickly became the butt of controversy, flushing out critics who wasted no time attacking the new title.

    According to local media reports, the town’s mayor, Luge Hardman, threatened to boycott the paper after its launch.

    “No. I’m sorry. But the innuendo of that title puts my city up for public ridicule, and I will not be a part of it,” Hardman was quoted as saying.

    A rival news publisher, Darrell Todd Maurina, also found the name hard to stomach, saying it “does not indicate a serious newspaper”.

    Despite straining relations with local authorities, the paper’s managing editor, Natalie Sanders, believed the name had a ring to it.

    Making a splash: American town launches Uranus Examiner newspaper

    ReplyReply
  69. 69
    Schlemazel says:

    @Ninedragonspot:
    Maybe it is the change. I love NYC and it has its problems. Maybe I am just comparing now to 30 years ago. But somehow SF just has a hostile feel that is different than the indifferent quasi-hostility of new York.

    ReplyReply
  70. 70
    dmsilev says:

    @TenguPhule: Klaatu Barada Nikto.

    ReplyReply
  71. 71
    Schlemazel says:

    @TenguPhule:
    That would be acceptable assuming it is large enough to do the job.

    Seriously though I do not think it would be the FBI locking the place down. Much more likely (In my mind anyway) that it was a threat. Either internal or external

    ReplyReply
  72. 72
    FlyingToaster says:

    Honestly, it sounds like a contamination problem, either digital or meatspace, where having NOBODY IN THE BUILDING while they figure out how it got there is the first priority. Hence having the sherriff “stand by”, in case it’s something that was brought in by an employee. Otherwise, it won’t actually be anything that can be addressed except by hazmat or ‘net security boffins.

    ReplyReply
  73. 73
    JGabriel says:

    TenguPhule:

    For many in the town of Uranus, Missouri, the title of the town’s new newspaper is taking some time to digest.

    This week publishers announced the launch of the Uranus Examiner

    … Despite straining relations with local authorities, the paper’s managing editor, Natalie Sanders, believed the name had a ring to it.

    I suppose it might be a little on the nose for a corrupt southern gov’t to um … digest?

    ReplyReply
  74. 74
    Origuy says:

    The post office in Sunspot, NM has also been closed. It does sound like someone sent in a threat.

    ReplyReply
  75. 75
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @Schlemazel: I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences here, but I can’t say that I’ve felt any hostility above what might be considered the baseline you’d see in any large city.*

    *(Caveat: middle-aged, white males such as myself usually encounter less random hostility).

    ReplyReply
  76. 76
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    It’s aliens. Trust me.

    ReplyReply
  77. 77
  78. 78
    BruceJ says:

    @Dangerman

    Seriously, if there were an asteroid coming a wee bit too close, would this place pick it up? I have no idea how far out they look (time, not distance). For example, if we are doomed before the 2020 election, will we have to listen to Trump claiming to be the last and best President until, ya know, SMOD smokes us?

    No. We have The Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA for that, at least until the Orange Twatwaffle defunds it to hire more Gestapo ICE agents. I suspect serious threat to the facility by an earthbound antigovernment nutcase.

    ReplyReply
  79. 79
    Fair Economist says:

    I adore the Bay Area and SF in particular. People there are so smart, educated, and interesting. Nowhere else have I experienced things like going out with a group for dinner and having the discussion naturally turn to Byzantine politics. But there’s no work for my sweetie there and house prices are well beyond nuts, so in Orange County I stay.

    ReplyReply
  80. 80
    BruceJ says:

    @TenguPhule: Honestly does the mayor comprehend that you really couldn’t put the town’s name up for any more ridicule?

    ReplyReply
  81. 81
    japa21 says:

    The “town” of Uranus, MO has an interesting back history. It is unincorporated, has a total of 25 residents and is situated on land purchased by the Mayor mentioned in the article. It is right next to St. Robert, MO which is where Fort Leonard Wood is. The so called mayor had wanted to open a gentlemen’s club in St. Robert and was refused permission to do so. He then purchased the land and develop a touristy shopping center. He chose Uranus simply because of the jokes that could be made about the name. There is a fudge shop and a large billboard on I-44 which proclaims “The Best Fudge Comes From Uranus”. Because the land he bought was in an unincorporated area, the proud folks of St. Robert could do nothing about it.

    ReplyReply
  82. 82
    chris says:

    Someone here will know, what’s the big white tower? The telescope is in the smaller cone in the foreground so the tower… a giant laser cannon?

    ReplyReply
  83. 83

    Hmmm, it’s not too far from Roswell, just saying.

    ReplyReply
  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    I was actually able to run a couple of errands after my PT today, and now I’m pooped. The nice young man at our neighborhood (mini) Target basically forced me to use their electric cart, but he was right and I was a lot happier. And spent more, which didn’t hurt them. Now I’m home again and laying down with ice on my knee.

    ReplyReply
  85. 85
    NotMax says:

    @BruceJ

    Also too, legions of amateur astronomers, often the first to report sightings in our very local neighborhood.

    Can easily see from the back yard the observatory for the world’s largest solar telescope, on schedule to receive first light in 2019.

    ReplyReply
  86. 86

    @chris: Don’t know, but the solar observatory on Mt. Wilson has one too.

    ReplyReply
  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Yay! Hopefully winter won’t be too extreme for your hubby. Didn’t you say he’s a California native?

    ReplyReply
  88. 88

    @NotMax:

    on schedule to receive first light in 2019.

    They been keeping it in a box up to this point?

    ReplyReply
  89. 89
    NotMax says:

    What can go awry? With this crowd, plenty.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) next week will test the Emergency Alert System, which allows the President to address Americans via text message in the event of a national emergency.

    The test alert, which will be sent at 2:18 p.m. ET on Sept. 20, will note that it’s a test of the system. At that time, all cell phone within the range of a cell tower will receive the message. Source

    ReplyReply
  90. 90
  91. 91
    Martin says:

    @chris: That’s the main observatory, actually. There are 5 telescopes there. The heliostat on top of the tower reflects light down the tower into an underground space where it’s imaged. It’s able to track the sun throughout the day.

    ReplyReply
  92. 92
    kindness says:

    I can certainly believe aliens don’t want us out in the galaxy at our current state of development. We aren’t a very principled species at the moment. Creatures of chaos is how we would no doubt be seen. No, we aren’t ready for their worlds yet. Yet.

    ReplyReply
  93. 93
    Martin says:

    @NotMax: Not enough views on Twitter I guess.

    ReplyReply
  94. 94
    Fair Economist says:

    @Major Major Major Major:A friend of mine from California who went to college in Chicago said it wasn’t too bad. Just wear more layers than the natives and eat a lot.

    ReplyReply
  95. 95
    JPL says:

    Geez since he can’t tweet about Manafort we are once again tweeting about Puerto Rico. When exactly did those folks die?

    “They say all these people died in the storm in Puerto Rico, yet 70% of the power was out before the storm. So when did people start dying? At what point do you recognize that what they are doing is a political agenda couched in the nice language of journalism?” @GeraldoRivera

    ReplyReply
  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    He’ll probably be fine. I did have a friend whose marriage broke up over weather, but he tried to move his California native wife from Los Angeles to rural Illinois where she didn’t know anyone other than his family. Even if he doesn’t like the cold weather, Mr. M^4 shouldn’t end up feeling as isolated in NYC as my friend’s wife did.

    Also, make sure to talk to your vet about moving Samwise. He may need a certificate of health since you’re taking him across state lines.

    ReplyReply
  97. 97
    chris says:

    @Martin: Thank you.

    ReplyReply
  98. 98
    Jay C says:

    @trollhattan:

    “Observatory detects honest Republican, immediately taken off line until the obvious fault is corrected.”

    Probably not: I don’t think there’s any instrument in the world with that fine a resolution…..

    ReplyReply
  99. 99

    @Mnemosyne: vet said in May that you need a certification to fly, but nothing about state lines…

    ReplyReply
  100. 100
    chris says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Thank you, too. Went down the google rabbit hole and now I want to go there.

    ReplyReply
  101. 101
    chris says:

    @chris: Forgot link. From the Mt. Wilson page

    http://obs.astro.ucla.edu/150_tele.html

    ReplyReply
  102. 102
    TenguPhule says:

    @JPL:

    At what point do you recognize that what they are doing is a political agenda couched in the nice language of journalism?” @GeraldoRivera

    Stop defiling Irony’s corpse.

    ReplyReply
  103. 103
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @J R in WV: Um, just for shitzengoogols, anyone here read Heinlein’s “The Year of the Jackpot” recently enough to remember the ending? (For those who haven’t, here’s a rather raggedly OCR’d PDF for your literary pleasure. It’ll take yinz awhile; enjoy.)

    (And with that I’ll tippytoe right on out of here…)

    ReplyReply
  104. 104

    It would be illogical not to speculate.

    ReplyReply
  105. 105
    Haroldo says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    he’s been wanting to move there for a while actually. But now of course it just dawned on him that it’s a logistical nightmare.

    Congratulations to you both. I moved to Boston’s North Shore from the Bay Area 17 years ago because I couldn’t stand the fuckin’ place (the Bay Area, that is).

    I hope you job offer has the sort of moving benefits that will mitigate some of the nightmares.

    ReplyReply
  106. 106
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @JGabriel:

    I suppose it might be a little on the nose for a corrupt southern gov’t to um … digest?

    Suppositorily speaking, sounds holey plausible…

    ReplyReply
  107. 107
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    If you think you might drive with Samwise instead, buy a leash and harness like the ones Cheryl has and start getting him used to them now. You will all be a lot happier if he can stretch his legs a bit at the rest stops in a safe way. It also gives you a better way to grab him if he panics with the car door open and tries to bolt.

    I’m pretty sure he needs a health certificate if you’re moving him to a new state regardless of whether you fly or drive, but check with your vet. At a minimum, you’ll need his vaccination records and may want to make sure he’s up to date on those before you leave.

    ReplyReply
  108. 108

    @Mnemosyne: zero interest in driving. Might take a train (without the cat) though. They’re actually headquartered in SF so there’s some flexibility around a ‘slow move’, it’s not as much of a logistical nightmare as it could be!

    ReplyReply
  109. 109

    @Uncle Cosmo: Can’t recall, even though I read it many times. I think that a giant sunspot eats the earth, but that could have been another story.

    ReplyReply
  110. 110
    NMgal says:

    @Origuy: Yep, I think this is key. Probably something suspicious–or, considering the length of the closure, something that turned out to be genuinely hazardous requiring decontamination of some sort–was mailed to the facility and came through that post office.

    ReplyReply
  111. 111
    Mart says:

    I was up all night making play dough from flour, water, salt, and food coloring; feverishly sculpting. Reading this I realize I had created a near replica of Sunspot. Don’t know how, but now I find myself on an Amtrak train passing by Uranus on my way to New Mexico…

    ReplyReply
  112. 112

    It’s in the Washington Post now. They say that only the post office at the facility was closed, not the town post office.

    ReplyReply
  113. 113
    NotMax says:

    @Mart

    Ridin’ on the City of New Orleans Uranus

    :)

    ReplyReply
  114. 114
    Bill Arnold says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    It’s aliens. Trust me.

    He said it wasn’t aliens.

    “telescope did not see aliens. All data will be made public in its unaltered form. Nothing is hidden or kept secret.”

    So the observatory must have seen a single alien, perhaps one that arguably looked like some natural object. Logic!
    The post office closure is an interesting twist. You all recall Men in Black II where Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) had self-exiled (using a neuralizer) to a position as a town postmaster?

    @Van Buren:

    Coming on the heels of the creation of the Space Force, it’s obvious that something is up.

    I was pretty amused by Trump’s announcement of the space force. Reasons, including (not exclusively) that the timing and content was weirder than usual even for Trump.
    Also, The Internet’s Six Wildest Theories on the New Mexico Observatory Mystery
    There are other theories, considerably wilder. I will not type them here. :-)

    ReplyReply
  115. 115
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    They say that only the post office at the facility was closed, not the town post office.

    Oh dang. There goes the Agent K theory. :-)

    ReplyReply
  116. 116
    Procopius says:

    @Schlemazel: Actually, if it were aliens it might be a good thing. Since Hillary was Secretary of State I’ve been worried about the excessive belligerence toward Russia. I think some of the neocons have decided we can “win” a nuclear war and have been pushing for that since 2009. As Paul Krugman pointed out, space aliens might force us to set aside our differences here and unite in the face of the external threat. What kind of “security threat” would have them close the facility for nine days (so far) and not make any kind of announcement? That causes panic, doesn’t prevent it.

    ReplyReply
  117. 117
    Tehanu says:

    I’ve been hoping for the Lylmik, Atoning Unifex.

    ReplyReply
  118. 118
    Procopius says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    It’s aliens. Trust me.

    Guy is sound asleep at home, 3:00 AM, when his phone rings. Still half asleep, he answers.
    Woman Caller: Hey, can I speak to Myrtle, please?
    Guy: There ain’t no Myrtle here. You gotta wrong number.
    Woman Caller: Oh, come on, let me talk to Myrtle.
    Guy: Lady, I’m tellin’ ya, there ain’t no Myrtle here. There ain’t no woman here, I live alone.
    Woman Caller: Aw, are you sure?
    Guy: Lady, have I ever lied to you before?

    ReplyReply
  119. 119
    Bemused senior says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Love that story. Love all of his early stories.

    ReplyReply
  120. 120
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @The Dangerman: JPL’s Sentry program works up to 100 years out. They keep the page updated with potential threats–the monitoring is good enough that by this point there’s pretty high confidence of no real extinction-level impact threats over the next century. Lots of potential city-busters are likely still going unseen, but those don’t cause a lot of damage unless they hit just the right spot–the Earth can be a surprisingly big place.

    ReplyReply
  121. 121
    Dan Yurman says:

    This comment adds to Cheryl Rofer’s analysis and was prepared independently of it. We agree in some areas and probably have different ideas in others. All of my comments are scenarios and none offer any evidence other than logical plausibility.

    Recall that there has been a dust up on the Internet over the closure of a solar astronomy facility in NM. Here are two good reports.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-solar-observatory-in-new-mexico-is-evacuated-for-a-week-and-the-fbi-is-investigating-no-one-will-say-why/2018/09/14/ea006a96-b78b-11e8-a2c5-3187f427e253_story.html

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news.....evacuation

    The Internet predictably filled the airwaves with theories about aliens being detected in outer space. I believe this is nonsense. That said like everyone else I have a couple of theories or scenarios about the closures. None involve aliens.

    1. Hacking – China, Iran, North, Korea, Russia, former communist bloc countries, hack everything. Any government or quasi government facility in New Mexico is a target. Many are interconnected by high speed networks. The Chinese once hacked an air conditioning system at the US Chamber of Commerce. HVAC is actually significant as a target. More on this below.

    Follow me here on the connection issue – recall that the infamous hack of Target’s credit card system was accomplished by hackers who got into it via the network that also controlled HVAC in its stores. Like many big box stores, Target controlled ALL of the HVAC in all of its stores via a central location operated by a contractor. The hackers got into the poorly defended HVAC systems and from there into the credit card computers which were on the same network.

    It follows that if you are a hostile foreign power intent on getting US secrets from govt labs in NM, you go looking for the weakest link on the network. A low profile astronomy facility, with no national security secrets of its own, makes a perfect target. It most likely has back haul network connections for high end computer processing of its data to Sandia or other national labs or other National Science Foundation labs with super computing power. All of these connections makes the solar facility a terrific portal to much more valuable targets.

    The “security issue” in this scenario is that the hackers got into the solar facility and were attacking other govt labs in NM when they were detected. The spooks traced the attacks back to the solar facility which was being used as a “base station” for fanning out throughout the DOE/DOD complex in NM. It is also possible that one or more staff at the solar facility are being checked to see if they are complicit, e.g., to answer the plausible question of whether it was an inside job.

    If this is the case a forensic review of all computers in the facility will take some time. If hacked machines are found, they will have to be replaced. The big risk is that science data will also be lost.

    2. Contamination – someone, perhaps a disgruntled employee, sent an envelope with ricin, or a harmless white powder, to the facility, which was opened by an employee. The intent would be to disrupt operations or maybe some overworked staffer just snapped and decided sending the plant an envelope full of his wife’s talcum powder would be a good way to get a few days off.

    Note that news media coverage included interviews with two staff from the local post offices one of which is also now closed. This is the basis for my “envelope” theory. The “security issue” is to determine whether there are any other “letters” or packages in either post office or in the facility that could contain harmful substances or stuff pretending to be the same.. In any case, next step is complete investigation and decontamination of all works spaces which means an extended closure.

    3. Theft and or diversion of equipment and facility capabilities for private gain. This one is more of a stretch. What if one or more of the staff were running some kind of side hustle with the facility, for whatever purpose, and hit a trip wire of some kind sending messages to their “customers.” Could have been something as mundane as a sports betting pool or football spread gambling that got out of hand.

    In all three case the investigation could become a criminal case which would lead to indefinite closure as the site would now become a crime scene.

    No aliens in any of these scenarios.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *