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Helpful Hints for Muslim Moon-Watchers

So you are sure you have seen the new moon (Hilal) today after the sunset.

Before telling others (giving your Shahadah for Ramadan and Eidian dates) be sure to note:

  • when did you see it

  • how did the moon look

  • where in the sky (to the right, above or to the left of the setting sun

  • of what shape

  • for how many minutes

  • were you able to show it to others

  • did you use a binocular or telescope to locate it

  • were you able to take a digital photograph

Remember:

  1. On 29th day a moon will never be seen before sunset or within the first 8-10 minutes of the sunset. The Sun’s glare on the lower horizon makes it impossible for human eye to detect dimly lit thin crescent moon.

  2. Generally, you can locate it with an ordinary binocular on the lower western horizon where the Sun had set a few minutes ago.

  3. If you really did see a Hilal it will not disappear in seconds or even in minutes. You should be able to see it again until it goes down below the horizon.

  4. If you could see it, then almost everybody with you could also see it. Similarly, every moon-watcher located west of you (within moon’s visibility parabola) should be able to see it.

If it nobody else could see it or a few others claim to see but not all present at the same location then probably ‘sighters’ have mistaken something else for a Hilal

  1. A Hilal is always visible on 30th evening. If it is NOT SEEN on 30th day after the sunset then certainly the beginning of the Islamic month was WRONG.

Use our “Hilal Observation Report Form”.  Fill all the details as quickly as possible to avoid misstatements. Your Shahadah may crucial for others to start Ramadan and celebrate Eidain.

Some modern astronomical references are:

    Schaefer, B. E., 1988: "Visibility of the Lunar Crescent", Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 29, pp. 511-523.

    Schaefer, B. E., Ahmad, I. A., Doggett, L. E., 1993: "Records for Young Moon Sightings", Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 34, pp. 53-56.

    Ilyas, M., 1994: "Lunar Crescent Visibility Criterion and Islamic Calendar", Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 35, pp. 425-461.

    Doggett, L. E., Schaefer, B. E., 1994: "Lunar Crescent Visibility", Icarus, Vol. 107, pp. 388-403.

    M. B. Pepin, 1996: "In Quest of the Youngest Moon", Sky & Telescope, December 1996, pp. 104-106.