The APOGEE survey had stupendously productive October and November bright runs[*] with 206 plates successfully observed. This achievement is a great credit to the Apache Point Observatory mountain observing and engineering staff, who worked hard to complete these observations while simultaneously performing system maintenance and validation. Thanks to their efforts 107 plates were observed during the October bright run and 99 during the November bright run. This total of 206 observations included multiple observations of 120 unique plates covering 87 different fields on the sky, for a total of 54,000 new spectra of over 23,000 stars, including 11,000 previously unobserved stars.
The APOGEE survey is currently on pace to finish its goal of observing 100,000 stars by the end of the SDSS-III survey in 2014.Those interested in the future of APOGEE and the Sloan Foundation 2.5-m Telescope after SDSS-III are invited to read about the plans for a trio of surveys that will study our own galaxy and beyond
[*] A “bright run” is the time the moon is bright in the sky, roughly from one week before full moon through one week after new moon. The moon makes the background sky much brighter in visual wavelengths (note how many more stars you can see with your eyes when the moon is below the horizon compared to the night of a full moon). But the additional brightness of the moon is much less important in the infrared, so infrared observations are generally scheduled for times the moon is up, while visual-wavelength observations, such as those of the BOSS survey, are scheduled for times when the moon is below the horizon or only partially illuminated from our perspective on Earth.