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!