The holy month of Ramadan this year will begin on August 22, according to astronomical organisations. The date has been decided on by the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences and astronomical organisations in various Middle Eastern countries, an Arabic newspaper reported.
Their prediction is based on scientific calculations for the Hijra year (Islamic year) 1430 and the coordinates of Makkah. On August 20, the moon will set at 6.46pm, prior to sunset. This will make sighting of the moon, the basis of the Islamic calendar, impossible.
On Friday, August 21, the sun will set at 6.47pm and the angle between it and the moon will be 17 degrees. The moon will set at 7.26pm and hence will be much more visible. On August 22, the sun will set at 6.46pm and the moon will be at an angle of 30 degrees from the sun.
The traditional way of sighting the moon as mentioned in the Quran is to look at the sky and visibly sight the crescent moon (hilal) that marks the beginning of the holy month. The moon’s visibility depends upon its angular separation from the sun. If the angular separation is small, just the presence of the moon above the horizon is not enough for it to be seen. For the moon to be visible it has to reflect sunlight, and to do that it has to be at a minimum angle of about 10 degrees from the sun.
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