Moslems praying at the Grand Mosque in the western Saudi city of Makkah would have seen the sun straight above them on Saturday, a rare phenomenon that helps worshippers worldwide to set the exact direction of the holy city.
The phenomenon is the first this year and was to take place exactly at 12:18 noon Saudi time (13:18 UAE time or 09:18 GMT), said 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 straight under the sun….this means all structures and bodies in the Grand Mosque will have no shadow at that time…it will be a zero shadow,” he told the Saudi Sharq newspaper.
Abu Zahira said the phenomenon would help Moslems around the world in knowing the exact direction of Makkah, including those in Europe, Africa, Russia, China and East Asia, where the best time to define Makkah direction was 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.
“Moslems 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 towards Makkah…this applies to distant areas not in areas close to Makkah like Jeddah,” he said.
Abu Zahira called on residents of neighboring Gulf countries to carry out the experiment for the Makkah direction setting and email photographs to the Society on Jeddah_society@yahoo.com