Observational Issues of New Moon Sighting in Pakistan

Abdul Rehman, M Shahid Qureshi, Naeem Sadiq


Moon sighting issue in Pakistan is a socio-religious challenge as many religious events (Eid-ul-fitar, Eid-ul-Azha and Ramadan start after new Moon sighting) are directly related to it. The Islamic lunar date is determined by the first sighting of the new Moon which is considered more authentic in determining the start of new lunar month than the astronomical calculations. In Pakistan central Ruet-E-Hilal committee announces the beginning of new lunar month after taking reports from local Moon sighting witnesses. The main issue behind the concept of local Moon sighting is the reliability of the reports that claim to have seen the new Moon. So the study of local Moon sighting practices in Pakistan is necessary. In this study observation of new Moon recorded at meteorological observatories by using theodolite will be compared with the computed results of software’s Moon calculator version6.0 and Accurate Times. The results show low accuracy in observational data of new Moon recorded at meteorological observatories. This is due to the lack of skill in handling instruments and inaccurate clocks. The error in altitude of recorded new Moon is due to inaccurate leveling of theodolite at the time of observation and error in recorded azimuth of Moon is due to inaccurate setting of azimuth with true north. To eliminate error in observational new Moon data recorded at observing stations, Astronomical Telescopes are suggested to be installed at Pakistan meteorological observatories. This work explores the related issues and indicates the short comings of the process of recordings of related data at the observatories.

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