Eid al-Fitr 2020: Saudi Arabia moon sighting timing, Shawwal start date, end of Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr or Eid ul-Fitr or Meethi Eid marks the end of Ramadan, also referred to as Ramzan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and is celebrated by Muslims all across the globe. Eid al-Fitr or the “Festival of breaking fast” celebrations are said to begin on May 23 and continue until May 24, however, the actual date may vary as per the moon sighting. The start date of any lunar Hijri month varies according to the new moon sighting by religious authorities, and since Eid al-Fitr also marks the first day of Shawwal month, it is celebrated on different days across regions.

Saudi Arabia Supreme Court has asked Muslims throughout the country to report the sighting of the crescent moon.

The court said: “Whoever sights the moon with naked eyes or through binoculars, report to the nearest court and register testimony, or report to an authority of a region’s centre in the area.”

Astronomers at the observatory of Majmaah University near Riyadh in Saudi Arabia confirmed on Thursday that the crescent moon of Shawwal is unlikely to be sighted on Friday, Ramadan 29 (May 22, 2020).

Sources at the observatory said, “According to the scientific calculations that were published on the astronomical observatory site that sun will set at 6.39 pm at 293 degrees, and moon will set at 6.26 pm Friday, Ramadan 29, and this means the moon will set 13 minutes before the sunset.”

“On Saturday, Ramadan 30, corresponding to May 23, the sun will set at 6.40 pm at 239 degrees, and the crescent moon will set at 7.23 pm at 293 degrees, meaning that the crescent will stay on for 43 minutes after sunset at an altitude of 8.84 and elongation of 10.60,” they continued.

Astronomers from Abu Dhabi’s International Astronomical Centre said Eid al-Fitr would most likely fall on May 24 as spotting the new moon would be impossible due to the setting of the moon before the sun. In the wake of the novel coronavirus, the committee will meet remotely via video conferencing.

The Islamic or Hijri calendar is determined by moon cycles, which last either 29 or 30 days. The presence of a new moon signals the start of a new month.

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