Sighting Of The New moon.

Status
Not open for further replies.
A

azmawi

Guest
Muslims all over the world will benefit from your expertise in sighting the new moon for the Muslim months of Ramadhan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah. Much appreciated if you can localise the sighting to Saudi Arabia, England, USA, India and Malaysia.
 
C

CalliArcale

Guest
For those who don't understand the significance of this....

The Moon's phases are of course easily predicted with a little math. But actually *spotting* the new Moon, as early as possible, is a bit trickier. First of all, although the Moon's phases are basically the same around the world, it rises at different times in different places. So after calculating when the nearside will first become the tiniest bit illuminated, you have to calculate when it will rise after that moment. Once you've worked *that* out, you need to account for the fact that it'll still be awfully close to the Sun, and of course you're unlikely to have a perfectly unobstructed horizon available, and it might be cloudy at your observation site.

It is entirely possible for the new moon to not be visible at all for a day, at least from anywhere that people are watching. Something of a sport has developed among amateur astronomers worldwide to see who can spot the youngest Moon. "Youngest", in this sense, means amount of time since the point where it was completely unilluminated, and even though nobody ever spots that (with the exception of a solar eclipse), it's fairly straightforward to calculate. It's gotten to where if you want to set a record on this, you will probably need to predict the ideal observation point, possibly do a bit of international travel, and bring a telescope or binoculars -- the youngest new moons have been sighted during daylight, and a bit of magnification will help make out that whisper-thin moon.

But modern amateur astronomers actually inherited this passion from older astronomers. In days gone by, many people set all of their activities by the moon and worked off of lunar calendars. Today, lunar calendars only survive in religious contexts, and one of the more notable is the Islamic calendar. The sighting of the new moon carries no real significance to your average American stargazer, apart from bragging rights, but to a Muslim, this *particular* new moon is important, because it will signal the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Muslim clerics around the world will be watching for the new moon. It's not because they don't know it's coming; they can predict it mathematically as easily as you or I. But tradition says that somebody has to actually *see* the new Moon before it counts, as a way of commemorating the month-long fast that the prophet Mohammed underwent, stopping when he likewise observed the new Moon.

I'll post more when I get back; I have a meeting to attend. ;-)
 
C

CalliArcale

Guest
And I'm back!

The importance of sighting the new moon (which today pretty much only determines religious festivals and such, but in Medieval times was important also for secular events, since a lunar calendar was being used) is why Muslims in the Middle Ages and Renaissance were such good astronomers -- the importance of careful observation was enshrined in religious practice. Consequently, when science started regaining prominence in Europe, much of the information was coming from the Muslim world, which had been keeping very good records for some time, and which possessed quite good maps of the heavens. This is why so many of the visible stars in the sky have Arabic names.

So, as the New Moon is calculated to occur on September 18th, you can expect that there will be a sudden increase in the amount of stargazing in regions with a substantial Muslim population starting Friday. However, according to Moon Watch, it is very unlikely that anyone will actually witness it on that date, due to unfavorable timing. So Ramadan will have to last at least another day. They predict that the first actual observation will occur in southern Africa on September 19th. Northern hemisphere viewers have unfavorable geometry (the Moon's orbit is very low in our skies right now), so we probably won't see it until September 20th.

Go to the Moon Watch site -- it has a tremendous amount of information about seeing the youngest possible new Moon, especially this page:
Moon Watch: Next New Moon Predictions
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts