Sighting of the Ramadan crescent can be achieved using three methods: Through telescopes, using astronomy, and some regions are content with viewing the crescent with the naked eye.
“Proving the beginning of Ramadan is not limited to crescent sighting,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Manea, member of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia.
“There are other ways and means to determine the first day of the month, including astronomy. Astronomy is, in fact, more accurate and more convincing than moon sighting, which is only hypothetical while astronomy is conclusive and definitive.”
He said that the findings of Muslims who specialize in astronomy must therefore be taken into account because it is a proven means for confirming the crescent. The testimony of a moon sighter — who ought to be known for his justice — should not be accepted if it contradicts the astronomers’ opinion.
The crescent-screening method takes place during the emergence of the crescent moon. Once it has completed a full cycle around the Earth and started a new one, the crescent is evident before the month’s first sunset. When the sun disappears below the horizon, the crescent moon remains perched in the sky where the sun went down. It has to remain visible in the sky for at least 30 minutes after sunset.
The crescent moon cannot be seen with the naked eye when 15 hours have passed since the beginning of the cycle, and can only be seen through a telescope 12 hours after a new cycle begins.
To see the crescent moon clearly, it should be viewed from a high vantage point, far from heavily populated and built-up areas such as cities, and from natural and man-made obstructions that could obscure the sighting, such as mountains, hills and skyscrapers, and clear of atmospheric factors such as humidity and dust.
Scholars and experienced astronomers are the only ones who can determine whether or not the crescent moon has arrived to dictate the beginning of the holy month. If they fail to witness the crescent moon on the 29th of the month, Ramadan will not start until the 30th day.
“Astronomical calculations indicate that the month of Shaaban is a 30-day full month, which means that Thursday, May 17 will be the first day of Ramadan,” said Khalid Saleh Al-Zaaq, member of the Arab Union for Astronomy And Space Sciences.
He added that Ramadan this year will be a 29-day month, with June 15th therefore marking the first day of Eid. The dates have yet to be officially confirmed.