JEDDAH — Jeddah Astronomy Society has stopped releasing statements regarding sighting of the new moon for Ramadan and denied that last year’s incident has anything to do with the decision.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project (ICOP), based in Abu Dhabi, released a report which stated that a new moon will not be sighted on Thursday. ICOP based the report on astronomical calculations.
Last year, a number of astronomers said the sighting of Shawwal’s new moon was impossible. Despite the declaration, the Supreme Court announced Eid based on reports by traditional moon-sighting observers.
ICOP stated that the sighting of Ramadan’s new moon on the 29th of Shaaban, would be impossible from all northern locations and some central locations in the world.
This would include Iraq, Syria and parts of Saudi Arabia. This is due to the setting of the moon before sunset. For the rest of the Arab world, the sighting of the new moon on Thursday will not be possible even with the largest telescopes due to setting of the moon at the same time as the sun.
Mohammed Odeh, ICOP President, said that according to astronomers, Ramadan will fall on Saturday but “if things go like they did last year, Ramadan will be on Friday for many countries.”
“People who see the new moon with the naked eye, are the same people who have been seeing it for the past 20 years or so. With all this technology, astronomers and experts, we have special telescopes directed to the moon and then traditional moon sighting people say they saw the moon. I believe it’s time to trust science,” Odeh said.
Although the moon will set six minutes after the sun in Makkah; 8 minutes in Sana’a, Yemen; 10 minutes in Khartoum and Djibouti; 14 minutes Mogadishu; and 19 minutes in Moroni (Comoros), the moon will not be visible to naked eye or with the aid of a telescope. It will be seen only in the far Southern region of Africa and South America, ICOP declared.
“Despite having the latest technologies and experts, if, this year, things go the way they have been going the previous years, the majority of Arab countries will start fasting on Friday. In a few countries, they accept reports that contradict Astronomical data and scientific calculations claiming that reports of a sighting by any witness should not be refuted while the moon is in the sky,” Odeh said.
The Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project urged authorities in Muslim countries to take every precaution possible to confirm with absolute certainty all sighting reports on Thursday.
Every year, countries that still rely on the traditional method of moon sighting, report sightings if enough citizens claim to have seen the moon. Many Muslim countries such as Oman and Morocco, do not rely on such reports, which are prone to error and instead use astronomical calculations to declare the beginning and end of the holy month.
This year, it is expected that many Arab countries will announce the beginning of the holy month on Friday. Other countries including Oman, Morocco and Libya are expected to account the start of fasting on Saturday.