How observatories in the Arab world look for the moon to mark the start of Ramadan

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Across observatories in the Arab world, scientists and amateur astronomers gathered earlier this week to look for the new moon that marked the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

“The observation of the Ramadan crescent starts with a pure scientific and mathematical approach, through astronomical equations where we observe the crescent, prayer times, eclipses, and the direction of the prayer,” said a professor at Cairo’s National Institute for Astronomy and Geophysics, Yassir Abdel Fattah as he was searching for the Ramadan crescent through his telescope.


Scientists at Saudi Arabia’s Majmah University astronomical observatory set up CCTV cameras to detect the moon as soon as the sun would set.

The Ramadan crescent moon was sighted in Saudi Arabia earlier this week, marking the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday, April 13, according to an official announcement from the Kingdom’s Supreme Court.

In Damascus, people gathered on the roof of the Syrian Astronomical Association and one of the association’s members, Tarek al-Qarra, said that although they sighted the crescent at about 5:30 p.m., they later on lost it for about a quarter of an hour due to cloudy weather.

Moonsighting is a tradition used for centuries to determine the start of the holy month of Ramadan according to the lunar-based Islamic calendar.

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