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Astronomers in Egypt and Algeria play significant role in religious observances

from Al-Ahram

The exact beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer, is traditionally determined through naked-eye observation of the thin crescent of the new moon. Such observations are of course very dependent on local atmospheric conditions, and this can lead to discrepancies amongst Muslims in different geographic locations. The end of Ramadan, and the start of Eid, is likewise subject to variability in observations. And this year there was a discrepancy as to whether Ramadan ended Aug. 29 or 30. But astronomers in Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere, especially those associated with the Islamic Crescents' Observation Project provided compelling data showing that naked-eye sitings of the crescent moon on Aug. 29 were not scientifically plausible. Rather actual naked-eye crescent moon sitings were more likely on Aug. 30. more

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