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Closure of National Solar Observatory remains shrouded in secrecy

Closure of National Solar Observatory remains shrouded in secrecy

SUNSPOT, New Mexico - The National Solar Observatory in Sunspot New Mexico has been closed since last Thursday.

The post office near Sunspot also remains closed. Its employees have been temporarily transferred to the post office in Cloudcroft, a USPS official told ABC-7. 

ABC-7 has confirmed the post office in Sunspot will not be re-opened until further notice, and cannot be re-opened until approved by local law enforcement officials.

ABC-7 Monday spoke with Shari Lifson, who is with Aura, the company that co-manages the Observatory with NMSU. Lifson told ABC 7 there is no time-table for the Observatory to be re-opened. 

ABC-7 also reached out the FBI, but did not hear back from the federal agency in time for deadline. The FBI did speak with local law enforcement about the length of the observatory closure.

"They spoke with my sergeant initially and they said that they would be down for a few days so that could be anywhere from a few days to months, from my past experience," said Sheriff Benny House.

The FBI did not tell Sheriff House the reason for the closure.

Sheriff Benny House did tell ABC 7 that his local law enforcement did not have anything to do with either the observatory closure, or the Sunspot post office Closure. 

A spokesperson for the United States Postal Service told ABC 7 that they were given specific instructions.  "We were told on September 6th that we would be evacuated along with the surrounding area, we were not told why," Rod Sturgeon said, "We were told just to be out of the area."

Sturgeon told ABC 7 that he did not know who ordered the evacuation, adding "We remain suspended until we are allowed to return."


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