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Eid al-Fitr may start tomorrow as space agency predicts conjunction of moon

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{FILE] Nigerian Muslim worshippers take part in Eid al-Fitr prayers at the National Stadium sport complex of Surulere neighbourhood in Lagos on June 4, 2019. – Muslims worldwide are celebrating Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The much-expected Eid al-Fitr may begin tomorrow, as the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), through its Centre for Basic Space Science (CBSS), yesterday, predicted that the conjunction of the moon would occur at about 8:00pm today while the first astronomical lunar crescent would appear in Nigeria tomorrow around 8:30am.

Traditionally, the Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon, commonly known as the lunar cycle. Consequently, the holy month of Ramadan falls approximately 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.

The fast started on Monday, April 12, following the sighting of the moon over Mecca. Lasting for 30 days, the spiritual exercise would end today, with the celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr starting tomorrow or the day after.

Eid al-Fitr, which means ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, is the important holiday that follows the month of Ramadan. Celebrated for up to three days, the event does not begin until the sighting of the moon. It is a time for feasting, giving gifts to children and spending of quality time with loved ones.

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Meanwhile, NASRDA, in a statement, signed by Head, Media and Corporate Communications, Dr. Felix Ale, said that the agency, saddled with the responsibility of carrying out scientific observation of the nearest celestial object to the Earth, which is the moon, has successfully calculated that the very first appearance of the lunar crescent cannot be seen with unaided eyes because of its size and likely light, but would be visible to the naked eye in the evening sky of Wednesday, May 12, 2021 between 6:21pm and 7:42pm after sun set in Nigeria.

According to the body, the first lunar crescent visibility in states are as follows: Yola in Adamawa to first witness the young lunar crescent from about 6:21pm to 6:57pm, followed by Maiduguri in Borno from 6:23pm to 6:59pm.

It said the city of Jalingo in Taraba State would be the next to experience the appearance from 6:26pm to 7:02pm while the capital of Yobe, Damaturu and Gombe would sight from 6:28pm to 7:04pm and 6:29pm to 7:05pm.

In Abuja, the lunar crescent would appear at 6:45pm and end with moonset at about 7:27pm just as Kano and Sokoto would feel the experience between 6:42pm and 7:19pm; 6:57pm and 7:43pm, with Kano having a sunset at 6:42pm and moonset at 7:24pm.

Also, Abeokuta in Ogun State would experience the process between 6:56pm and 7:33pm while in Kastina, the first lunar crescent would appear from 6:47pm to 7:24pm with sunset and moonset at about 6:47pm and 7:29pm.
The agency equally said Jos in Plateau State and Kaduna would experience the crescent between 6:38pm and 7:14pm, and from 6:44pm to 7:21pm.

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According to calculations, the sunset and moonset in both states would be 6:38pm and 7:19pm as well as 6:44pm and 7:26pm.

It noted that the crescent would be sighted in Enugu from 6:38pm to 7:15pm, with sunset and moonset at about 6:38pm and 7:20pm while it will be lastly sighted in Birnin Kebbi between 7:00pm and 7:37pm.

NASRDA said all other states of the federation would experience the lunar crescent between the estimated time of 6:21pm and 7:42pm on Wednesday.

The agency observed that all results it released showed precise date, appearance time of first crescent, time of sunset as well as moonset for all the state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The statement added that the results were for public consumption, especially those who would need them for religious and academic purposes.

The organisation said scientific researchers should be at liberty to request for detailed analyses or more results for other cities within the country.

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