When does Ramadan end in 2023?
The month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan will this year finish on either Thursday, April 20 or Friday, April 21, 2023 and signal the beginning of Eid Al-Fitr.
Why the confusion about dates? Blame the Moon—and a rare kind of total solar eclipse.
The exact dates of months in the Islamic calendar are tied to the movements of the Moon, with the first sighting of the next crescent Moon the trigger for the end of Ramadan and the start of the three-day feasting festival of Eid al-Fitr (the “festival of breaking the fast”).
However, this particular New Moon—occurring on April 20—is rather special because it also causes a “hybrid” total solar eclipse in the southern hemisphere.
What is a ‘Shawwal Moon?’
Muslims call this auspicious crescent Moon the “Shawwal Moon” because it occurs in the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the phases of the Moon. Its sighting begins Eid Al-Fitr.
The “Shawwal Moon” can come just a few hours after the astronomical New Moon. During the New Moon our satellite is lost in the glare of the Sun and completely invisible, but as it creeps from between Sun and Earth its limb becomes visible. When it emerges briefly in the west just after sunset as a super-slim crescent and, crucially, is sighted, it’s the “Shawwal Moon.”
When is the ‘Shawwal Moon?’
It’s likely to be on either Thursday, April 20 or Friday, April 21, 2023, though it depends on where it’s observed. For example, on Thursday, April 20 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the crescent Moon will be just 0.2%-lit just after sunset and almost certainly impossible to see for mere minutes after sunset, though it will be 1%-lit and a little higher in the post-sunset sky as seen from the west coast of the U.S. about 10 hours later, so more likely to be seen. On Friday, April 21, 2023 the crescent Moon will be 2.4%-lit from Mecca and generally much higher and brighter in the post-sunset sky (and about 4% from the west coast of the U.S.), so much more likely to be sighted from everywhere around the world.
By Gordon Wylie Community and EDI Officer MKDSA