Last night (12.10.25 in ALFALFA nomenclature), we completed the ALFALFA drift scan survey, known as Arecibo observing program A2010. Riccardo and Martha conducted the observations from the “Camuy Cave” on the 5th floor of the Space Sciences Building at Cornell. It’s a little hard to believe that we’ve actually done it!
The last telescope schedule showing program A2010, the ALFALFA drift scan survey
It was a memorable night. Even before we began, the awesome Undergraduate ALFALFA team sent us a e-card. Thanks to you all! We look forward to the continuing activities of the UAT!
Riccardo reads a printed version of the UAT e-card. Notice the smile on his face!
Some friends came to celebrate the end of the A2010 era. Martha had on her ALFALFA t-shirt (thanks of course to the UAT) so it was all very official.
Bonnie, Martha and Jim celebrate the moment. As should be clear, Martha was having “more fun than human beings should be allowed to have” (ALFALFA motto #2).
Of course, it is not just all about observing, and with the end of the drift scan program A2010, ALFALFA is not really done yet. There is a lot of work still to do! Once ALFALFA discovers something interesting, a lot of followup work has to be done. For example, we recently discovered a fairly strong signal that turns out to be associated with a really, really, really faint (in terms of starlight) galaxy. We are now trying to determine its precise distance and star formation history using ground (WIYN, LBT, JVLA) and space based telescopes (Hubble, Spitzer). Just this one galaxy could keep us busy for a while. And there are lots of fascinating ALFALFA discoveries!
Riccardo introduces Leo P, a tiny nearby galaxy discovered by ALFALFA, to Anita, Don and Luke.
ALFALFA couldn’t have happened without the participation of the ALFALFA team of all ages and career stages and the support of the dedicated and expert staff of the Arecibo Observatory and the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center. The survey has been carried out on a low budget with no dedicated full-time staff. So, to all of the people who have participated in one way or another, we thank you – each and every one!
The observing on this last night went swimmingly and, as usual, there wasn’t much actually to do except to monitor the data taking. So there was a little celebration…. Thanks especially to Carlo (BB) for the bottle, Ron (and the UAT) for the culatello and parmigiano, and Edy and Marcia (4F Club) for the chocolates.
Luke, Greg and Mike (rear) keep an eye on the observing while Martha and Riccardo celebrate the end of A2010. As to the observing, it was a boring night, but as we all know: “Boring is good!” (ALFALFA motto #1)
We also note that those 4,741.5 hours do not include all the time spent planning, archiving, flagging, signal extracting, etc, etc, etc… And just because A2010 is done, that doesn’t mean ALFALFA is finished. We still have to “bring in the harvest”!