MAKKAH: People in the Grand Mosque will have a rare celestial treat on Saturday when they see the sun straight above them. It is a rare phenomenon that helps worshippers worldwide to set the exact direction of the holy city.
The phenomenon is the first this year and will take place exactly at 12:18 p.m., according to Majid Abu Zahira, head of the Jeddah Astronomy Association.
“This vertical solar phenomenon will happen for the first time this year and Makkah will be directly under the sun …. this means all structures and bodies in the Grand Mosque will have no shadows at that time … it will be a zero shadow,” he told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
Abu Zahira said the phenomenon would help Muslims around the world know the exact direction of Makkah, including those in Europe, Africa, Russia, China and East Asia, where the best time to define Makkah direction will be around sunset by looking at the sun.
In North and South Americas, the direction can be best known at sunset on that day, he said.
“Muslims and other people can set that direction by placing a stick or any other object vertically on the ground at that time … its shadow will point accurately toward Makkah … this applies to distant areas, but not areas close to Makkah like Jeddah,” he said.
Abu Zahira called on residents of Gulf countries to carry out the experiment for the Makkah direction setting and e-mail photographs to the Society on Jeddah_society@yahoo.com