Why ISNA Astronomical Experts
Blunder? Omar Afzal,
The Moon’s earliest
visibility is no longer a scientific inquiry, and there is no scientific ‘test’
to prove or disprove a sighting claim. So how to determine the first date of an
Islamic month? Since ancient times, astronomers have tried to predict the
likelihood of seeing the waxing moon by defining minimum visibility criteria.
Monzur’s MoonCalc currently supports 13 such criteria.
Babylonian.................... [Age at sunset>24hrs & Lag>48 min.]
* Ibn Tariq......................
[Alt, Lag: 48 min.]
(1910) [Alt, Rel Azi]
(1911) [Alt, Rel Azi]
[Alt, Rel Azi]
........... (1977) [Alt, Crescent width: 0.5 modified
to 0.25 min.
Ilyas_A........ (1984) [Alt, Elong]
* Ilyas_B modified
Babylonian [Lag:41-49 min for 0-40 degrees Latitude]
Ilyas_C........ (1988) [Alt, Rel Azi]
(1981) [Alt=10 degrees at sunset, Elong:12+/-]
* SAfrican Astro Obs
[Topocenteric Alt, Rel Azi]
Shaukat........ (?) [Alt:3.4, Elong: 12.7+
Crescent width: arcmin /1.2)>1]
* Yallop ….
(1997/8) [Rel Alt, Crescent Width]
This criterion was
developed from the Indian and Bruin criteria by Yallop (RGO) from 295 published
moon (non)sightings compiled by Schaefer and Doggett. A parameter 'q' is derived
from the relative geocentric altitude of the moon (ARCV) and topocentric
crescent width. In the original technical note byYallop, q was derived at 'best
time' (ie sunset + * moonset lag).
q Range Remarks
A q > +0.216
Crescent easily visible (*Not always)
B +0.216 >= q >
-0.014 Crescent visible under perfect conditions
C - 0.014 >= q >
-0.016 Need optical aid to find crescent
D -0.016 >= q >
-0.232 Optical aid only
E -0.232 >= q >
-0.293 Crescent not visible with telescope
F -0.293 >= q
Crescent not visible, below the Danjon limit
Shawwal moon’s visibility
was claimed on Nov. 2, 2005 in the US (one naked-eye, and another telescopic,
both from Phoenix, AZ). Both were outside E and F (Impossible) visibility curve,
and raise serious questions about the credibility of the observers as well as
Muslim experts interpreted and validated the two claims
according to their whims, instead of evaluating them on the basis of established
scientific rule of “repeatability” (For moon-sighting: Seen by all observers at
the same location) and “universality” (Seen at all places west of the initial
claim, within the parabola).
The following analysis of
D. Qa’da crescent’s earliest sightings on Friday, 2 December 2005 is for both
the astronomical experts and Muslim Ulema. They have implications about:
1. How to define a “Hilal”? (Can the wax moon, not distinctly visible in the
picture submitted by Ali Reza Mehrani, be called a Hilal?)
2. How to evaluate telescopic claims? (Mehrani one out of a group of six on
Dec. 2, 2005, Stamm one out of a group of ten on Nov. 2, 2005)
3. How to evaluate a naked-eye sighting claim (“Impossible” by all known
astronomical criteria (Phoenix, AZ on Nov. 2, 2005) for 11 minutes, all others
from the same location did not see any), or Saudi Arabia (Dec. 2, 2005) where
the watchers is “not sure” but conjectures that he might have seen one, etc.).
ISNA Fiqh Council always
claims that it rejects all sighting reports that contradict “indisputable
astronomical information”. However, its experts never spell out what is
their “indisputable” astronomical criterion, and how did they validate Nov. 2,
2005 claim what ISNA had projected its visibility as “IMPOSSIBLE”.
Please look to the
visibility map of Dec. 2, 2005 (MoonCal.6). Also keep in mind the fact that
CFCO’s moon-watch on Dec. 2 resulted in extensive negative sightings all over
the northern USA from New Haven, CT to San Francisco, CA.
Canada, like most of
Europe, and a large part of Asia was outside the visibility parabola on Dec. 2.
But one claim is from Australia, and many from ME. Why was a moon claimed in
Australia on Dec. 2 was not visible to many in N. America. Many experienced
observers did not see any moon in southern USA despite clear skies but three
claims were made from there. Here are the details.
reports: 8 Positive, 16 Negative: 8 Cloudy, 8 Not seen on clear horizon)
ICOP member, Salah Sukkarieh: "Due to cloud, the new Moon could not be seen
in Sydney, Australia on Friday 2nd December."
* ICOP member Mr. Afroz Ali: "The crescent was sighted
in Australia on Friday 2nd December."
duration of visibility, # of observers, atmospheric conditions, etc. not given)
ICOP member, Mutoha MMC: "From Parangtritis Beach Yogyakarta, the sky mostly
cloudy, the hilal not seen.”
ICOP member, Mr. Saif Qureshi: "The western sky in Islamabad was clear
after the sunset on 02 December 2005 but crescent was not seen by naked
ICOP member Mr. Mohammad Zahed Aram mentioned that he was not able to see the
crescent by binoculars despite the clear sky.
* ICOP member Mr. Alireza Mehrani: Location: 200 km west
of Esfahan, Iran Sunset (observed): 16:58 Crescent first
observed through 15x80 binoculars Time: 17:05:40 LT Moon Alt:
2.982? Elongation: 12.819?
Crescent final observation through 25x100 & 15x70
binoculars by Ali Ebrahimi and Abbas Ahmadiyan: Time: 17:23:25 Moon Alt: 0.104?
Observers: Alireza Mehrani
(15x80 bin), Ali Ebrahimi (25x100 bin), Abbas
Ahmadiyan (15x70 bin),
Saeed Janghorban (15x70 bin), Mahdi Mansuri (20x60 bin),
(The attached picture
does not show any lighted crescent moon; Mehrani claims the Hilal was visible
for 18 minuts but 4 (or 5?) out of 6 observers at the same location were
unable to see any moon;)
ICOP member Mr. Bacil Moudhaffar: "Crescent was not seen this evening
(Friday) even with binocular."
ICOP member Mr. Hussain Khushaish: "On Friday, I & a group of 3 persons could
not see the crescent even with 20x60 binocular. The sky was clear except
from a layer of haze the last 2-3 degrees above western horizon.
ICOP member Mohammad Odeh: "Tried to observe the crescent from Hafit mountain
(1000 m above mean sea-level) due to problems in the telescope the crescent was
*? ICOP member Mr. Hani Dalee: "I had an obscuring horizon that didn't allow me
to see the crescent for long time. It went behind horizon when it was 3 degrees
above the real Horizon as appeared in THE SKY 5. The crescent was very thin and
barely seen by binoculars. But I think I glimpsed it by naked eyes
after binoculars but not sure about it. It wasn't possible to be seen
by naked eyes as I think and saw."
ICOP member Mr. Saleh
Al-Saab said: "I could not see the crescent, but it has been seen in more
than one site by binoculars."
ICOP member Mr. Bankih Kacem:"The western horizon was superb from Merkich
station. Four observers saw crescent with three (03) binoculars, one
(01) member difficultly by naked eye."
ICOP member Mr. Othman Fadli: “It was partly cloudy”: "The official day
of Dulkiada 1426 in Morocco is Saturday, 03 December 2005."
ICOP member Mr. Hamza Rijal: Dhulqaad Hillas was Sighted around 16:45 local Time
(13:45 GMT. Wakfy Office confirmed that they observed the Hilal too."
ICOP member Mr. Bashir Sani: "The crescent…26 hours old …wasn’t seen here
at the Main Campus of Ahmadu Bello University, at Samaru, Zaria.”
* South Africa:
ICOP member Dr. Abdurrazak Ebrahim: "The Hilaal was clearly visible by naked-eye
from Sea Point, Cape Town.” I first observed the very thin crescent [cusps at 4
to 8 o’clock] through 10 x 50 binoculars at 10 minutes after observed local
sunset. The crescent became visible to the naked-eye at 20h03m 18 minutes after
Local sunset: 19h45 Sighting locality: Sea Point: 0
meters above sea level [band of cloud on the horizon to an altitude of 1?] First
sighted by naked-eye at 20h03 [topocentric q] Moon altitude: +09?:43':02"
Azimuth: +03?:29':17" Width : +00?:00':31" Illumination : 01.62 % Moon-age : 25
hr 45 min"
ICOP member Mr. Gerhard Ahmad Kaufmann: It was cloudy.
ICOP member Mr. Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti said: "Negative sighting. The horizon
*ICOP member Mr. Javad Torabinejad: "This
evening, we sighted the moon in Blacksburg, VA. Immediately after sighting the
moon through a pair of 7X50 binoculars, I was able to sight it by naked eye at
5:17 p.m. EST. The horns were on 2:00 and 5:30 o'clock. The sunset was at 5:04."
like When? How long, By how many? Etc. are missing)
* ICOP member Dr. John
Caldwell: “Saw it by binoculars and by naked eye"I looked rather late, so it
could have easily been seen earlier." (Details missing, though fits into
predicted visibility zone)
ICOP member, Mr. Gulamabbas
Khakoo: "Unable to sight the crescent from Long Beach, California. Both days
have been very cloudy."
ICOP member Dr. Muhammad
Hafiz: " Due to rain Hilaal observation was made impossible."
ICOP member Mr. Bilal
Gharaibeh: "Clouds accumulated and it was hard to observe.
New Moon Report (9th Biblical
Month, Kislev [Dec.2, 2005])
positive, 5 Negative despite clear skies, and 11 cloudy)
(When the crescent is sighted by two or more,
sightings reported for the next day are not listed; except for Israel reports, for those who
use the Jerusalem moon. Thanks for your understanding - Rich Lobert)
BT MST -clouds
Arizona (Scottsdale) R.
Lobert MST -clouds
Arizona (Tucson) LH,DH
Arkansas (Holiday Island) DM
JM CT -clouds
Arkansas (Clarksville) FB
Florida (Jacksonville) *FH
ET -clear, no sighting
* Florida (Orlando) RB
ET -Sighted at 5:56 pm by 1
Georgia (Winder) BA
Indiana (Crawfordsville) WS
Iowa (Boone) LH
CT -clouds & snow
Israel (Jerusalem) NG
Kentucky (Jamestown) FH
Kuwait (Kuwait City) KF
Texas (Bloomington) TW
CT -clear, no sighting
* Texas (Burleson) G,NH
CT -Sighted at 6:00 pm by 2 people
Texas (Canton) S,R
* Texas (Cisco) RY, JF, VW,
CH,SS CT -Sighted at 5:48 pm by 10 people
Texas (Plano) LA
CT -clear, no sighting
Virginia (Danville) BR
ET -clear, no sighting
* West Indies (Dominica) AP
JF ECT -Sighted at 5:45 pm by 1 person
reports: 9 Negative, 9 Positive, 1 other)
Salah Sukkarieh from
Sydney, Australia: Not Seen. Due to severe weather
Hussain Khushaish (MCW
member) from Kuwait: Not Seen
In Kuwait, I & a group of 3
persons could not see the crescent even with 20x60 binocular. The western
horizon was clear except 2-3 degrees of haze above the western horizon.
* Ali Said Al Sumry, (MCW
member), Ministry of Awqaf Religious Affairs, Oman: Seen
Today 2nd December 2005, Dr. Saleh Al Shaidhani from
Sultan Qaboos University has seen the crescent of the Dhul Qad'ah 1426 in
Muscat, Oman, he used 14 inch RCX telescope at 15 minutes after sunset.
* Hamza Rijal, (MCW
member), from Zanzibar, Africa: Seen around 16:45 local Time (13:45 GMT),
Wakfy Office confirmed that
they observed the Hilal too.
* Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti
(MCW member) from Oxford, UK: Not Seen The horizon was overcast
Ismail Ebrahim Omer (MCW
member) from Lusaka, Zambia: Not Seen
The moon was not sighted in
Lusaka due to clouds and rain
* Rashid Motala (MCW
member) from Durban, South Africa: Seen; many witnesses in Durban.
* Dr Abdurrazak Ebrahim
(MCW member) from Sea Point (S. Africa): Seen
Cclearly visible by
naked-eye from Sea Point, Cape Town. I first observed the very thin crescent
[cusps at 4 to 8 o’clock] through 10 x 50 binoculars at 10 minutes after
observed local sunset. The crescent became visible to the naked-eye at 20h03m
i.e., 18 minutes after local sunset.
Ahmed Mohamed, (MCW member)
from Windhoek, Namibia: Not Seen; due to cloudy weather.
Muhammad Hafiz (MCW member) from Guyana reported: Not
Seen, due to rain.
* Javad Torabinejad (MCW
member) from Blacksburg, VA: Seen. Immediately after sighting the moon
through a pair of 7X50 binoculars, I was able to sight it by naked eye at 5:17
pm EST. The horns were on 2:00 and 5:30 o'clock. The sunset was at 5:04pm. (Many
* Abdur Rahmaan Abu
Abdullaah (MCW member) from Columbia, SC: Seen
I observed the first hilâl
from 17:28 until 18:00 EST near Columbia, South Carolina, at Lake Murray on the
Saluda Dam. With a phase of only 2.7% and elongation of 17°, this hilal was much
harder to spot. Sunset was at 17:15 EST. Sighted with Nikon OceanPro 7x50 7.2°
CF WP compass binoculars at 17:28 EST. Sighted with naked eye at 17:39 EST.
Ruth Jeffery (MCW member)
from Houston, TX: Not Seen. Skies were completely overcast.
* Clay Chip Smith (MCW
member) from Austin, TX: Seen. More than 6 Muslims saw the Hilal. Sunset
was at 5:30 PM. We tracked the Hilal till it went behind the trees at 6:05 PM.
Gary Peterson (MCW member)
from Tempe, Arizona: Not Seen. Cloudy.
* Paul Burnham (MCW member)
from Chino Valley, Arizona: Seen. Initial sighting was with binoculars
through a hole in the clouds at 1743 MST, lasting to 1745 MST. The arc was also
clearly visible to the naked eye. A second sighting occurred between 1749 and
1750 as the arc passed a second hole. The curve appeared to extend from the 2
O'clock to the 6 O'clock position with approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the arc visible
at any one time.
Gulamabbas A. Khakoo (MCW
member) from Long Beach, California: Not Seen. Cloudy.
Dr. Youssef Ismail (MCW
member), San Francisco, California: Not Seen. The skies were 100%
clear on the horizon.
Abdul Sattar Ridhan (MCW
member) from San Jose, California: Seen
Crescent moon has been sighted by Imam of Islamic Center
of Yuba City with group of people accompanying him. (Did not report his
own, but others claim)
NEXT EXPECTED NEW MOON
31 December 2005 Saturday
or 1 January 2006 Sunday- Starts the 10th Biblical month, Tebeth
31 December 2005 Saturday
or 1 January 2006 Sunday
There is a low probability
for seeing the New Moon on 31 December 2005 Saturday after sunset.
Moon elevation above the
horizon for most of the United States will be 5.2 degrees at sunset.
Moon age for the four U.S.
time zones east to west: 19, 20, 21, and 22 hours.
Visibility: Visible if
conditions are perfect. Sunset to moonset: approximately 42 minutes.
If no sighting is reported
anywhere after sunset on 31 December 2005, use the information below:
The new moon is expected to
be seen on 1 January 2006 after sunset.
Moon elevation above the
horizon for most of the United States will be 17 degrees at sunset.
Moon age for the four U.S.
time zones east to west: 43, 44, 45, and 46 hours
Visibility: Easily Visible
if skies are clear.
Sunset to moonset:
approximately 1 hr 57 minutes
[Data constructed with
MoonCal 6.0 software]
Reporting Format: Please
send the 6 items below (cut, paste, and fill in, thanks):
1.) YOUR NAME -
2.) LOCATION (city / town,
3.) DATE -
4.) SIGHTED? (yes or no) -
5.) If YES, TIME
sighted-(Local time) -
5.) If YES, NUMBER OF PEOPLE
(including yourself) who saw it [without binoculars or telescope] -
6.) If NO, Was it clear and
not seen, or clouds, overcast, haze?
Apparently, Jewish observers appear to have a better
defined Crescent moon than the Muslims, and are more careful in validating