I’m spending this week at the Arecibo Observatory with the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team (UAT) for our annual January workshop. I like to call these events “Camp ALFALFA” — an opportunity to bring lots of young undergraduate scientists, and their faculty mentors, together at this world-class facility. During the workshop, there are observing opportunities, telescope training sessions, a tour of the Observatory, lectures, and scavenger hunts to get everyone up to speed on ALFALFA. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to get people involved in ALFALFA so that we can maximize the scientific results of the survey and spread the work around. That’s pretty important when you have a total of 5,000 hours of observing to cover!

Currently, I’m here with Martha and Becky getting everything set up for the arrival of 32 members of the UAT. That involves making sure that everyone, and their laptops, will have a place to sit and to connect to the web. If you’re a member of the team, welcome! That goes double if this is your first trip to Arecibo. For us, Arecibo is a welcome change from upstate New York. It’s 85 degrees here in the day, and at night it dips down to the low 70s (so we can sleep with the windows open and listen to the impressively high-volume sounds of the coqui frogs all night).

Throughout the week, we’ll be updating the blog (and hopefully posting some contributions from members of the team!) to let you know what we’re up to and to give you a better idea of what it’s like to spend time at this amazing facility.