Qatar’s moon sighting committee will convene on Thursday right after Maghrib prayer.
The Eid Al Fitr crescent cannot be seen in the Arab and Muslim countries with the naked eye on Thursday, 25 regional astronomers said in a joint statement published by the International Astronomical Center (IAC) on Wednesday.
The IAC statement was signed by different astronomers including Khaled Abdullah Turki Al-Subaie, the former director of the Qatar Energy and Environment Institute and the discoverer of Qatar’s constellations.
The statement comes as countries prepare to convene across the region to observe the moon on Thursday evening in order to declare whether Eid Al Fitr will fall on Friday or Saturday.
However, the IAC noted that the statement does not aim to specify the day of Eid Al Fitr “as it is linked to various factors, both jurisprudential and scientific.”
“Rather, the purpose of this statement is to clarify some scientific facts related to the issue of sighting the crescent,” the IAC said.
The experts cited several scientific research that help determine the accuracy of the moon sighting, including the distance between the sun and moon. The scientists pointed to findings by French astronomer Andre-Louis Danjon, who said that the crescent cannot be seen if it is less than six degrees away from the sun.
“This limit, which is accepted and adopted by all specialists around the world, Muslims and others, is considered one of the most important factors to start considering the possibility of seeing the crescent,” the experts said.
Using Indonesia as an example, the experts said that the moon in Jakarta is 2.7 degrees away from the sun, which is less than the specified limit. In Abu Dhabi, the experts said the moon and sun are 4.7 degrees away, while the figure in Mecca is 5.1 degrees.
“Seeing the crescent is not possible with the naked eye in the Arab or Islamic world, and is not even possible using telescopes in most of them, and most of them are less than the ‘Danjon’ limit,” the experts said.
However, countries that decide on the start of Eid based on the setting of the moon and do not require for the crescent to be observed, can celebrate the holiday starting from Friday 21 April.
“As for countries that require local, accurate vision only with the naked eye, or countries located in Asia that accept local vision with a telescope, it is assumed that Ramadan will be 30 days, and that Eid al-Fitr will be on Saturday, April 22,” the experts explained.
The months of the Islamic lunar calendar begin with the sighting of the crescent and last between 29 to 30 days, depending on the moon’s phases.
If the moon is not sighted on the 29th of the month, it will last for 30 days.
In Qatar, the Moon Sighting Committee of the Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) is the entity that officially declares the date of Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.
The moon-sighting committee in Qatar will convene to observe the crescent on Thursday evening after Maghrib prayer to determine whether Eid will be celebrated on Friday or Saturday.
No official confirmation has been revealed for the date of the Muslim holiday, though calculations by astronomers at Qatar Calendar House initially said 21 April may be the first day of Eid Al Fitr.
However, Awqaf has the final say on the beginning of the holiday.