OBSERVING THE IDD CRESCENT

OBSERVING THE IDD CRESCENT

 

Towards the end of this month soon after sunset, the evening skies will draw the attention of millions looking out for the Idd crescent.  Many others will also be attracted by two planetary jewels, Jupiter and Saturn that are also visible in the night skies as soon as the darkness sets in.  Early risers, especially for those up for dawn prayers are dazzled by an extremely bright star that is the planet Venus.  Looking out for the Idd crescent is done regularly by Muslims to complete their daily fasts of the holy month of Ramadhan.  Celestial bodies provide the basis for the passage of time, and the Moon is closely followed for marking the lunar month.

 

Currently the Moon is in the early morning sky before sunrise. Each day the Moon shifts in the sky by 12 degrees, so by June 23 it will be quite close to the Sun and its crescent can just be seen at dawn.  By the next day, 24 June, it will have shifted to the other side of the Sun and so will move out of the morning sky and enter the evening sky.  By the evening of 24 June, the Moon will be near the western horizon and around 7 degrees above the setting Sun. However, the crescent will be extremely thin (0.4%) and hidden in the brightness of the setting Sun and extremely difficult to see directly.

 

However, on 25 June the Moon will be nearly 20 degrees above the setting Sun in the western horizon.  Its crescent will be quite big (3.3%) and will be high in the sky once the sky is dark enough. Look for a flat open area with a clear view of the western horizon, and search for the crescent starting from around 6:30pm for observers along the eastern coast, and at later times for those in the interior, while for west Tanzania it will be after 7:15pm.

 

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