Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Moon and Ramadan

Ramadan Kareem!

And to understand why is I am fussing about it while I’m not a Muslim, please read my post Ramadan Mubarak on my other blog. It’s tiring to repeat everything.

Did you know that start and end of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar is based on the moon sighting? Now you know. It starts with the new moon and ends after a complete cycle.

The traditional method, mentioned in the Qur'an and followed by the Prophet Muhammad, is to look to the sky and visibly sight the slight crescent moon (hilal) that marks the beginning of the month. If one sees the hilal at night, the next day is the first day of Ramadan and thus the first day of fasting. At the end of the month, when the community sights the hilal again, the Festival of Fast-Breaking ('Eid al-Fitr) begins.

Aside from that, I am really fascinated with the Moon and it’s many phases. You have the new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent (in order of appearance, and in the picture, counterclockwise).

The moon orbits the earth approximately 28 days, so the lunar calendar is shorter than our usual calendar. And the differences in the phases depends on the relative position it has compared with the earth and sun.

And we have the solar and lunar eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, and the Earth's shadow obscures the moon or a portion of it. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking all or a portion of the Sun.