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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.”