An aircraft takes off from Ronald Reagan National Airport in front of Sunday’s supermoon. NASA/Bill Ingalls | Courtesy

Although a telescope was necessary to see some of the celestial bodies in the sky during Friday’s telescope viewing, anyone on campus could see the first and only supermoon of 2017 Sunday night.

Supermoons occur when a full moon appears larger and brighter than normal.  This phenomenon occurs because of the moon’s elliptical orbit around the Earth.

During a supermoon, the moon can appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter as it approaches the point in its orbit when it comes closest to Earth, according to a press release from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Two more supermoons will occur Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 next year.

Friday’s telescope viewing in Hayden Park, led by Assistant Professor of Physics Timothy Dolch, allowed students to see the waxing gibbous moon, the planet Uranus, and a cluster of stars in the Orion Belt.

“Dr. Dolch has us look at a bunch of different stuff, but my favorite thing this past Friday was the moon,” sophomore Myrica Wildes said in an email. “He had to put it under a red filter, as it’s so bright that it could burn your cornea.”

Junior R.J. Norton said the conversation while waiting for the telescope ranges from serious to silly, but the opportunity to observe celestial bodies through the telescope — and to get some fire-roasted s’mores — was a refreshing break from schoolwork.

“Telescope nights are a wonderful opportunity to step away briefly from the distractions of college life and engage in a truly timeless (but not mindless) activity,” Norton said in an email. “It tends to be peaceful but fun.”