Empty Sky 29th of Ramadan


Last evening the 29th day of Ramadan 1432 came to a close.  It being the 29th day of the lunar month meant it was time to go out and look for the new moon, marking the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal and of course Eid Al-Fitr (the festival of breaking fast).

Astronomically the new crescent moon was not going to be visible here in North America.  The moon was to set only 7 minutes after the sun and its elongation was below the Danjon Limt for being easily visible with naked eyes.  We were not going to see it, but maintaining the tradition is just as important as seeing the moon, so off we went.

Meanwhile down in South America, there was a good possibility that someone in Chile might see it and bring fasting to an end.  People in Chile were in contact with the CrescentWatch.org project and all were ready to convey and record the sighting report.  To our surprise the report came back as Negative – crescent not seen!

This seemed like the future had been sealed and fasting would continue for one more day.  But that would be too easy, right?  Suddenly, out of nowhere another independent sighting report appeared on one of the older moon sighting report websites, moonsighting.com indicating that someone in Chile had actually seen the moon.

The sleuthing began in search of that person so that the particulars could be ascertained.  Once found, it is discovered of course that our sighter in question only spoke Spanish, oh wait Farsi too.  Great, find a translator and then begin the dialogue.  After much discussion, and well into the night, a decision had been reached.  Only one solitary sighting under very favorable sighting conditions did not provide the certainty needed to declare the end of  Ramadan.

It was nerve racking carrying that kind of pressure knowing that the decision resting on your shoulders would effect so many people.

Contrast all this with our carefree 40 minute trip up the mountain, a leisurely 1/4 mile walk to the top of a hill overlooking the fog enshrouded canyons of the Santa Cruz Mountains and below all that the mighty Pacific Ocean.  Allow our eyes to feast on the ethereal afterglow of sunset and then enjoying a communal breaking of the day’s fast on the 29th day with good friends.  We stayed there for no more than 30 minutes when we were sure the ‘moon’ had set seeing nothing of it at all, and then turned around and came back home.  Our conclusion as we walked back to our cars, we have one more blessed day of fasting and then we would all celebrate on the following day.

In the end both endeavors yielded the exact same result – Ramadan would be a 30 day month.  Need I say which undertaking issued the greater return?

Peace to you All!