The Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA Survey

The Observing Team

The Observing Team effort is coordinated by Martha Haynes.

We observe a lot --- in 2005, the ALFALFA observing program A2010 was allocated 155 observing blocks on the Arecibo telescope. Because of the high demand for telescope time and the need to accomodate many different observing programs, it is more convenient for NAIC's schedulers to allocate telescope time for the ALFALFA survey in more but shorter blocks than we had originally requested. As a result, we cover the same area of sky as proposed, but in a somewhat less convenient (for us) way. Survey progress is carefully planned to accomodate both the survey strategy and the practical aspects of telescope time allocations. Thanks to the team effort, we've had great success in our observing -- and a lot of fun, too!

To enhance interaction and exchange between the Observatory staff and the observing team, the NAIC director urges us to be on site whenever possible so we do try to make sure that we have a regular presence in Arecibo. At other times, when classes and other obligations keep us home or scheduling is spotty, we observe remotely from selected locations. A2010 requires continuous monitoring of an attentive observer during data acquisition and daily attention to data quality, data transfer and storage, and general survey management. Our observing team is committed to making most efficient and effective use of every minute of telescope time, and we have set up a detailed protocol for all tasks associated with planning and carrying out the observations as well as archiving and processing the data. To engage the broadest possible team, ALFALFA "experts" provide on-site training in all aspects of observing and data reduction to others who then assume the observing-specific responsibilities for some period of time. Here is some evidence of the teamwork that results.

The Observing Team Photo Gallery

Click on the image for a larger version.
Find more photos on the ALFALFA Undergrad page.

Cornell grad student Sabrina Stierwalt (center) helps remove the ALFA cover after a radar run.

Bilal Mahmood (Union '08) "drives" ALFALFA in December 2005. Photo by Becky Koopmann.

Bilal Mahmood (Union '08) and Union professor Becky Koopmann spent part of their winter break at Arecibo. It was warmer there than in Schenectady!

Arik Mitschang (Humboldt State U. '06) inspects ALFA in person. Photo by Dave Kornreich.

Colgate professor Tom Balonek in control of ALFALFA on a night in January 2006. Tom and Martha were summer students at Arecibo together in 1973 (a long time ago!).

Brian Walsh (Colgate '06) "drives" ALFALFA in January 2006 under the watchful eye of ALFALFA expert, Sabrina Stierwalt. Photo by Tom Balonek.

Amy Furniss (Humboldt State U. '06) and Shea Brown (U. Minnesota grad student) watch the collection of a night's first photons in Feb 2006. Photo by Dave Kornreich.

Left to right: Amy Furniss (HSU '06), Arik Mitschang (HSU '06) with Martha Haynes and Dave Kornreich at AO in Feb 2006. Dave, who spent several years in the Cornell EGG "Camuy Cave", finally got a chance to explore the real thing. Photo by Shea Brown.

Last modified: Sun May 7 11:07:57 EDT 2006 by martha