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A red moon peeked out from overcast skies just after 10 p.m. Sunday night. Applause and cheering rose up from the dozens of stu­dents below, before the clouds blocked their view of the moon.

Despite the overcast skies, the total lunar eclipse briefly appeared. The rare event moti­vated the Astronomy Club to set up tele­scopes and a fire pit on the quad this past weekend. The group hosted a viewing party from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Assistant Pro­fessor of Physics Timothy Dolch explained that a total lunar eclipse occurs when the earth moves between the sun and the moon. The sun’s rays are refracted by the earth’s atmos­phere before reaching the moon, turning it red.

Junior Michael Tripepi, pres­ident of the Society of Physics Stu­dents, said the red light affects the moon the way a sunset changes the sky’s color.

“Blue light is scat­tered more than red light,” he said.

Tripepi, a physics major, helped set up the event with fellow Astronomy Club members senior Joshua Ramette and junior Daniel Halmrast. They had the campus lamp­posts turned off to increase vis­i­bility. The stu­dents managed the s’mores and fire while Dolch mon­i­tored the tele­scopes.

“My plan is to get some kind of a regular viewing night,” Dolch said. “The turnout made me very opti­mistic.”

He said the quad made it easy to attract people, but the default location would have to be some­where else.

Dolch also men­tioned the pos­si­bility of a solar eclipse occurring next year. However, people will have to travel west to witness it.

“That’s going to be pretty amazing,” he said.

While Dolch let stu­dents view the moon through the college’s tele­scope, junior Matt Hoenig brought his own. Though much smaller than the college’s model, it allowed more people to look.

“I thought, hey, might as well bring it along,” Hoenig said.

Although the tele­scopes were brought in time to witness the red moon, the clouds posed a greater threat at the start of the event. There were no stars visible when a light rain fell on the quad. Dolch and others rushed to put the equipment inside the Stro­sacker Science Center until the weather passed.

The brief rain did not stop Ramette from building a fire within the first ten minutes.

The s’mores and gath­ering space also played a strong role in drawing stu­dents to the event.

“I came here for cama­raderie, s’mores, good times, and the potential for a beau­tiful night,” freshman Andrea Wallace said.

The majority of the attendees stayed near the food and fire, observing the moon without the aid of the tele­scopes. Short lines formed behind the devices, placed several yards away from the crowd, where stu­dents could see it up close.

By 12:30 a.m. the party on the quad dwindled to only a table and a fading fire. Dolch and the few stu­dents who remained packed up their things, while the blood moon dis­ap­peared behind the clouds.