Posted on Sep 23, 2013
God takes care of children, old folks and fools, while the devil plays with the rest of us tools.
Posted on Sep 23, 2013
God takes care of children, old folks and fools, while the devil plays with the rest of us tools.
Posted on Sep 21, 2013
Each month this lone natural satellite of ours cycles through its phases always returning to the waxing crescent and appears in its performance after the sun has gone down. Each month, it seems, that its performance falls increasingly on an ever growing number of deaf ears.
Now you might be asking, how can we hear the moon when it is a visual experience? And to that I would reply, do we really hear with our ears? I had a teacher once who gave me advice. Be careful about what you do, people are listening to you with their eyes. In an age that is filled with imagery, actions speak much louder than words. And in an age where truth has been tipped on its head such that lies are believed to be truths and truth taken as lies, it is becoming harder to ascertain the truth. Nothing man touches anymore is free from the corruption of lies.
Twenty years ago I ventured out with a camera in my hand determined to vindicate the veracity of my tongue by photographing the new crescent moon as solid proof that I was seeing it. Along the way I became enamored by the natural world and have pointed my lens at much of. The world is vast and it has kept me occupied in preserving the moments it presented to me. In all that time, however, I never stopped photographing the moon. I rarely, if ever, shared the photos of the moon with many as I thought they would be of little interest; to simple for the sophistication of the modern mind, to boring for the eyes vexed by the virtual chicanery of our time. Yet in the past couple of years I have started sharing the photos of the new crescent moon and to my surprise they have been welcomed with a refreshing enthusiasm. Perhaps simple is best. After all was it not Albert Einstein who said “Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”?
These photos of the moon cannot be any simpler with regards to the subject and still call them photos of something. A sliver of reflected light set against a colorful post sunset sky. As simple as they may seem, they are a far cry from having nothing to say.
At times the color of the sky is vibrant while at other times quiet and tame. The color moves the eye up and down the frame touching upon all the emotions associated with the spectrum from passion to power to peace and sadness, stopping only for the pearly-white glow of the small sliver of light that interrupts the flow. The subject is always the same but placed in the specific context the photos take on many levels of complexity. At times I am treated with a varied sky mixed with silhouetted clouds giving the photo a sense of mystery or a dastardly ominous presence and the crescent provides a glimmer of hope that balances the image.
I also see the moon as a marker of time. Each day it waxes larger until it becomes full and rises as the sun is setting and then wanes away into a crescent once more before it vanishes for day or two as it interludes with the sun hidden to our naked eyes. Its mansions in the sky remind me of the passing of time, or more starkly the running out of time. I only have a fixed amount to time in this life as do each of you. Once my time, and your time for that matter, runs out, we cease to exist here. Our ability to do something to effect change for the better comes to an end. So it reminds me each month to get busy and not waste the precious amount I have left.
Rarer still, are those times when the moon is hanging in the sky next to other celestial travelers, such as Venus or Mars or other orbs of light that reach out from deep in the galaxy or from other galaxies that are light years away. These little sparks of light not only grace the image with another point of light to aid in giving the eye a place to rest but also giving us a glimpse into the past. For many of the stars that do show up, are so far away that their light reaching us now left those stars long before we ever existed and in some cases their light is as old as the universe itself. For us, looking up at the sky, these celestial beacons all appear the same distance away. Light reflected from the moon however, reaches us in a little over 1 second. From Venus, a regular companion of the Moon in the sunset sky, its reflected light reaches us in as little as 2 minutes or as long as 14 minutes depending on where it is in its orbit around the sun relative to where we are in our orbit. Light from the sun, which on average is 93 million miles away, reaches us in just over 8 minutes. The next closest star to us is Proxmia Cantauri which is 4.3 light years away, meaning light from that start reaching us tonight left that star 4.3 years ago. The additional star that showed up on the evening that “Trio” was made, Spica in the constellation Virgo, is the 15th brightest star in the sky and the light that left that star did so 250 years ago! That was before anyone of us reading this article right now was even born! And the faintest object that we can see by the naked eye under a sufficiently dark sky is the Triangulum Galaxy M33 which is 3 million light years away from Earth. Its light seen tonight left it 3 million years ago! When we look up at sky we are seeing the ancient past.
Then there are those times when I decide to not only include the moon’s neighbors in the sky, but also Terra Firma. I will place it as an anchor at the bottom of the frame, silhouetted against the colorful sky. Most times I will wait until the moon is close to the horizon allowing the diffraction effects of the atmosphere to play its magic in making the moon appear bigger than it really is. And yet, by doing so I emphasize the size of the moon to indicate that it is much more important than we esteem it to be. Without the moon, the tides on the oceans would not exist as they do. The variation of high tide and low tide would not be present. And although the sun and wind would still send waves onto our shores they would be tame compared to what we now see, and coastlines for the most part would remain static, much like those of any lake. By virtue of the orbiting moon, we have dynamic oceanic coastlines that team with a variety of unique life accustomed to the cyclic nature of the rising and dropping tides.
Further yet, the moon was the first means of marking time beyond a day, ushering in calendars into the human civilization that were used to mark sacred days as well as the counting of years. Through the discovery and understanding of the cyclic nature of the moon, the cyclic nature of the rising and setting locations of the sun and stars soon followed allowing our ancestors to learn about the changing and cyclic seasons – giving rise to the understanding of agriculture of knowing when and when not to plant. The relationship of the Moon and Mother Earth is one that runs very deep and the two are intimately connected through an invisible force now known as gravity. It was the sight of the moon up in the sky and simultaneously seeing an apple fall from a tree that prompted Sir Isaac Newton to question – if an apple falls from a tree to the ground, why does the moon up in the sky not fall to earth as well? It led him to the rationalization of what we now call Newton’s Laws of Motion which describe the very nature of the motion of our world and those objects in it as well as the motion of heavenly bodies. Through Newtonian mechanics, the motion of objects described by Newton’s Laws of Motion, humans have walked on the surface of the very moon that prompted Sir Isaac Newton to formulate those laws some half a millennium ago. And yet, to this day, we still do not know what gravity really is.
Yes these photos of the new crescent moon are simple, but by no means are they empty. The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, spoke succinctly with few words but with much meaning. His blessed face was described to shine more than the full moon on a dark night. He changed the world for the better and left for us in the moon a tradition of going out each month in search of it. Each month the moon appears is a reminder of the character building lessons that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, came to teach us. I see the moon as his final lesson. If he spoke succinctly in his lifetime he is now speaking to us in silence – through the silence of the moon. These photos of the moon as simple as they may be, speak volumes, without even saying a word.
Till next time, peace.
Posted on Aug 08, 2013
Like clock work the new moon for the month of Shawwal 1434 and the ushering in of Eid Al-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking Fast) began this evening at sunset. The moon as beautiful as always was set against a very festively colored sky. I am always amazed at how the moon knows how to dress for the occasion!
It was late by the time I got around to preparing this post after having our last fast-breaking dinner bidding farewell to Ramadan this year, exchanging and opening gifts with my family, I was getting pretty tired, but I wanted to leave you all with a more gift-like photo of the moon. I waited until the moon was close to setting and I created this 4 photo stitched panoramic of the moon just above the Santa Cruz mountains.
To all my Muslim readers, Eid Mubarak! And to all, Peace.
Posted on Aug 08, 2013
Last night was a trying one as reports of the new crescent moon were fielded. Several reports were made from the continental U.S. that at best were sketchy. Most were negative sightings. I surmise that most people celebrating Eid today will be doing so on the single report that came from Chile. To those of you celebrating today, Eid Mubarak! May God fill your Eid with joy and blessings uncountable and May God accept all your fasting, prayers, and recitations of the Quran.
For those of you waiting to complete 30 days because there was no local sighting of the moon, I commend you for patience and commitment to following the Path of the Prophet. I will post for you later this evening a photo of the local moon here in the S.F. Bay Area. Below was the sky and location of where astronomy said the moon would be. Beautiful nonetheless, the sky did not reveal the moon’s beauty.
Till later this evening. Peace.
Posted on Aug 03, 2013
This was the moon early this morning as dawn was breaking. Still waning in its last few days of its continual cycle before it vanishes for its monthly interlude as it meets up with the sun. Some time mid-late next week it will reappear in the sky invigorated to start waxing once more.
I don’t pay much attention to the waning crescent in other months and rarely do I photograph it. Not because I can’t but usually because it does not hold much significance to me. Ramadan on the other hand is all together different. Ramadan has a special place in my heart, as it does for most Muslims. Its a month of reflection, a month of exercising our will in abstinence, a month of foregoing the urges of our caprice, and a month of tightening our belts and getting busy in remembering our Creator. Its a month of becoming intimate with who we are and what we are capable of. Its a month of returning to the recognition of the relationship we have with the Lord of the heavens and Earth and all that is between those two. Its a month of recalling the word of God as revealed in the Qur’an and yearning to be better so that we can follow in the footsteps of the prophets and saints who proceeded us.
For Muslims, Ramadan is met with great anticipation as it approaches and is left with deep melancholy as it departs. Decades ago I wrote a short Ode to Ramadan titled “The Guest”. I sent it out in those early days of the internet in an email message to my close friends on an email board through which we communicated. Somehow it managed to escape that circle and make its way out into cyberspace in what we could call today going viral. Its still floating around out there, you just have to “google” that title along with my name and it will come up, if you are so inclined.
In it I referred to Ramadan as a guest that comes to us bringing blessings with it. It was written near the same time as I am writing today, near the end of Ramadan, in a reflective mood as to what we have earned during this month. I saw us as stationary and that Ramadan was coming and going. I bid it a farewell in that ode as it was leaving.
This morning a different thought occurred to me. As I said to myself, referring to Ramadan, “fare well my friend”, I became confused as to who the friend was. Did I mean Ramadan or did I mean my self as well as my other friends honoring Ramadan? My new perspective saw Ramadan being stationary and that we were the ones coming to visit it and then departing with the gifts it gave us. In fact, we are the ones that are moving through time. We tend to think of time passing by, but in reality, time is static and we move through it. I suppose it is all relative, just as if you are sitting in a moving car, is the car moving past the objects outside of it or are the objects moving past the car you are in? Its relative, and in a sense it does not matter.
However in the case of time, it is a created thing just like everything else. To the Creator, it is static and known because it has existed since Creation started. God knows everything at every moment because every moment in time is already there from its beginning to its end all laid out and God sees everything from what was, to what is and to what will be. Rather than time passing us by like water flowing past a rock in a river, we are like that car moving down the road. We encounter moments in a static time line much like a car encounters bumps in a static existing roadway. Our choices and decisions result in different turns we take along our journey to the end of time. When the end of time occurs is of course unknown to us, especially if we are driving along wearing blinders and refuse to look out the window for the warning signs along the road.
And so as we speed along in time we approach the end of Ramadan. If we feel that it has come to its end very quickly, maybe it was us who were moving to fast, that we did not slow down from our daily rigor and relish the month long portion of time we were moving through. Its kind of like when you encounter a designated “scenic highway”, its beautiful. If we don’t care we will just speed on by and never garner the gifts of that beauty. But if we slow down, and maybe even stop and get out of the car to breath if only for a moment, we come away with so much more.
So as we see the time-signs of the impending end of Ramadan, (hint: the waning crescent moon) rather than thinking about doubling our efforts to get as much out of Ramadan as we can, think, rather, that we should slow down our pace and possibly stop doing so much of our distracting activities. By doing so, we can relish and “see” the beauty that Ramadan is, treasure what it has to offer us and once we have gotten out of our time-travel machine, we might actually get to take a breath of Ramadan. Only then will we have garnered what is contained in Ramadan.
So, my friends, I say to all of you Fare Well on your journey through time. I hope you have stopped in Ramadan long enough to gather the provisions you need, for the next “time” you encounter Ramadan again, if at all, will be a long ways down the road.
Peace to you All.
Posted on Jul 21, 2013
In response to a question I received earlier this evening. Even though the moon appeared to be full this evening it was still a Waxing Gibbous with only 95.4% of the moon’s disk illuminated. The full moon will occur Monday July 22nd at 11:15 am PDT. It will rise tomorrow as a “full moon” but ever so slightly past full as the sun is setting, as every true full moon does, in fact it will rise 8 minutes before the sun sets. On Tuesday July 23rd it will rise after sunset by more than 30 minutes at 99.9% illuminated as a Waning Gibbous.
For those concerned about starting Ramadan incorrectly because you started fasting on Wednesday rather than Tuesday based on the Full Moon, a mistake was not made. The month is started on the sighting of the new crescent and not retroactively after the full moon is observed. In fact on July 22nd, here on the west coast of North America and throughout North America, the moon cannot be seen when it is reaches full as it will be day time and the moon will not have risen yet. As of the close of July 21st, we have fasted 12 days. The traditional white nights of the Full moon occur on the 13, 14 and 15th days which will occur on July 22nd, 23rd and 24th, just as they should be.
For your viewing pleasure, here is the full moon as it appeared in the sky above my home near midnight on July 21st. A thin layer of clouds in the sky glowed as the bright moon light filtered through them.
Posted on Jul 09, 2013
Good evening all! Although it was not required or critical to sight the moon this evening, it has become a habit that I just cannot leave. I did not travel far to find this moon. Nor did I have to, and neither do you if you are a crescent chaser as well.
Like every other month I go out to see this tiny sliver of light in the sky, when I see it great joy fills my heart and I wear a grin from ear to ear. It is one of the most remarkable sights in all the world to me. The moon has been my monthly companion for the last 20 years and it still brings me as much awe and wonder as the first time I ever saw it.
This month the moon ushers in a blessed month of patience, vigilance, fortitude, faith, and spirituality – the month of Ramadan. It is the Muslim month of fasting in which observant Muslims abstain from food, drink and marital relations from dawn until sunset for the entirety of the month, solely out of obedience to our Loving and Merciful Creator.
So without further a due, here is the harkener of blessings upon blessings.
To all my Muslim readers…Ramadan Mubarak!
And Peace to all!
Posted on Jul 08, 2013
Just a quick note. The new crescent moon for Ramadan 1434 (2013) was not seen here on the west coast of the United States in the San Francisco Bay Area. Being that today, July 8th 2013, is the 29th day of Sha’baan, it is the critical day for looking for the moon.
In fact no positive verifiable sightings were made worldwide today. That being the case, Sha’baan will complete 30 days and Ramadan will commence on Wednesday July 10th, 2013.
Check back tomorrow if you are interested in seeing the new moon of Ramadan, which I plan on photographing tomorrow evening, God willing.
Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim readers!
Posted on Jun 09, 2013
Just a quick note to announce the beginning of the eight month of the Islamic calendar, Sha’baan, has commenced this evening. We tried to view this moon from our normal sighting location atop Russian Ridge in the Santa Cruz mountains, but fog, wind and a thick marine layer had completely obscured the view from there and any hope of seeing the new crescent. We rushed back down the mountains and directly to the top level of a parking structure of a local hospital. From there we had a clear view of the horizon and we waited there until we sighted it.
Sha’baan is known as the Month of The Prophet. In this month the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing upon him, used to fast more than in any other month outside of Ramadan. It is also a month in which there is a night where those seeking forgiveness of God will find it if they ask. It is the night of the 15th day. So seek out your good fortune in this blessed month and until next time, Peace.
Posted on May 10, 2013
This evening the new crescent moon of Rajab for the Islamic year 1434 made its appearance. It was a delicate moon and had the company of Venus as it set in the western sky. A mild evening that at first posed some possible cloudy interference. But as the sun set and the sky cooled, the clouds for the most part dissipated leaving the Moon and Venus in plain sight.
It was interesting that Venus was spotted first and was brighter in the sky than the crescent moon was, even though the moon is closer to us and many orders of magnitude larger. We used Venus as our marker to find the moon, as we knew from an ephemeris that the two would be close to each other.
The moon was first sighted around 8:20 pm PDT and it was primarily in blank sky. I photographed it over the next half hour until it was just about to set. The photograph above was made at approximately 8:45 pm PDT, as the dark band of clouds added an extra dimension to the scene.
Rajab is an important Islamic month as it helps in locking down the start times for the following month Sha’baan and then the month of Ramadan when fasting begins. It ripples from this day onward for both the start of Ramadan and its end which ushers in Eid Al-Fitr, the festival of fast breaking.
I feel very fortunate living here on the west coast. We have the best possibility, and in most cases, the last word on any given day for sighting the new moon each month. I and my assistants were not the only ones who sighted the moon this evening, I did receive one other report from a long time friend and fellow crescent chaser who saw it as well from atop Mount Tamalpais about 60 miles north of my location, also a stunning location in its own right. We were atop Russian Ridge in the northern reaches of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
To all my Muslim readers, Rajab Mubarak!