Explanation of this New Year’s moon sighting
The new moon was seen by only one person and that outside Jerusalem after sunset ending 6 April, however it was calculated to be easily visible and was seen by numerous witnesses east of Jerusalem.
The moon’s illumination at Jerusalem was 1.3% at the moon’s meridian passing 13:35 on 6 Apr, later at nearly 8 pm when it was sighted the illumination was more than 2%. It was easily visible. The term “meridian refers to the moon being directly above the observation site.
The issue in this month’s instance, is that it was well established by calculation that the moon could be very easily seen, and it was seen by multiple witnesses east of the city as well as one witness a few miles outside the city.
Scroll down to the April 6 New Moon sightings list. Note particularly that the new moon was seen directly east of Jerusalem in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The fact is that sighting by two witnesses at Jerusalem is essential when there is any ambiguity in the calculations; but when the calculations establish the new moon without question, then sightings from east of the city will confirm the calculations.
During the ancient Temple period the Sanhedrin would calculate the first visible light of the new moon at Jerusalem, and then at the appropriate time they would interview witnesses in Jerusalem to confirm their calculations.
Today, even though people go out to search for the new moon in Israel, it is often the case that there are no people searching for the new moon in Jerusalem, or searchers are not reporting in a timely manner due to Rabbinic restrictions.
What if in some months there is no one even looking from Jerusalem: Shall we say that there is no new month when by both calculation and observation outside the city it is obviously the new moon, just because a sighting was not reported at Jerusalem?
We must do the very best we can in our circumstances and if there is no doubt of the visibility by calculation and it is seen east of the city then the new moon should be declared: but if there is any doubt about the calculated potential visibility and the moon is not sighted east of the city then the new moon should NOT be declared.
It is not always possible to have timely reports of observation directly from Jerusalem and at times it is necessary to invoke rule three of the Calendar principles article. This is a difficult issue and I welcome any input which would help, but as of now I am convinced that April 7, 2019 is the new moon day.
I look forward to the day when Christ comes and provides us clear instructions.