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Why is the moon sighted at different times in different countries?

  • Published at 01:16 pm May 17th, 2018
Why is the moon sighted at different times in different countries?

According to astronomers, the moon is seen earlier in the West and visible later in the East

People of all countries cannot see the moon simultaneously despite it being a satellite of the earth. 

The moon is sighted earlier in some countries while people in other countries see it later.

According to astronomers, the moon is sighted earlier in the West whereas it is seen later in the East. That is why religious occasions like Ramadan or Eid, which are based on a sighting of the moon, are held earlier in some countries and later in other countries.

The holy month of Ramadan or fasting began on Thursday in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Indonesia as the moon was sighted in those countries on Wednesday. 

In Bangladesh, Ramadan will commence on Friday since the moon was not sighted on Wednesday in the sky in any part of the country.

Saudi Arabia is located to the west of Bangladesh while Malaysia and Indonesia are eastof Bangladesh. Many raise the question that even after being in the middle, why is the moon not sighted in Bangladesh on the same day. 

“The moon cannot be sighted at the same time from all countries due to distance,” said FR Sarkar, vice president of Bangladesh Astronomical Society.

He further said: “The more westward you go the sooner you see the moon, and the more eastward you go, the later you see it. That is why the new moon is sighted in Saudi Arabia earlier than in Bangladesh.”

FR Sarkar said since the new moon surfaced around 5:30pm Bangladesh standard time on Tuesday, the sighting of the moon was likely on Wednesday. But the moon could not be sighted due to a cloudy sky.

The moon was supposed to be sighted on Wednesday at 11 degrees of the horizon line for 10 minutes only. If the moon appears for such a brief period of time, then the chance of sighting becomes very slim.

Usually the moon is sighted within 19-20 hours of its birth every 29.5 days, said the vice-president of the astronomical society. 

Prof Farseem Mannan Mohammedy of the electrical and electronic engineering department at Buet, and also researcher of astronomy, said: “Since the earth is round the moon is sighted at different times from different countries.”   

“Nowadays we can get to know the moon’s position by mathematical calculation. The moon is never static. So the position of the moon can easily be understood.”

He further said the moon should be sighted in keeping with the Islamic rule for observing Ramadan or Eid. Religious festivals are held on different days in different countries as the moon is sighted at different times.