Sighting the new moon to determine the first day of Eid Al Fitr is always a tough task, an astronomer who is also the member of the UAE Moon Sighting Committee told Gulf News on Monday.
“During the last two days of the month, the moon will be beyond the horizon after sunset, so it is difficult to observe it with the set conditions or parameters to determine the first day of Shawwal which is the first day of Eid Al Fitr,” said Sakher Abdullah Al Saif, who is also a member of the Emirates Astronomy League. About the approved parameters, he said: “We consider mainly two factors to confirm that the new moon has appeared.”
The first factor, he said, is the crescent should have appeared on the horizon for at least 16 hours. The second is that the crescent should be at more than 17 degrees to the horizon.
He explained that with state of the art digital telescopes it was possible to observe the moon during daytime also to ensure that it had appeared on the horizon for 16 hours.
He said the moon sighting committee does not deploy astronomers in the field these days to observe the moon but everything is done on the internet and computers.
There are volunteer astronomers, both professionals and amateurs, across the globe to observe the new moon and they put their findings on their websites, Al Saif said.
“You can find the exact location of the moon round the clock [on such websites]. We compile those data and analyse all the reliable information to reach a conclusion,” Al Saif added.
The committee also contacts neighbouring countries before deciding, he said.
Courtesy of gulfnews.com