Ramadan 2023: Sultan Al Neyadi shows breathtaking views of crescent moon from space

He marked the start of the holy month on the International Space Station

Sultan Al Neyadi shows breathtaking views of the crescent moon from space. Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter
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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has marked the start of Ramadan on the International Space Station.

On Friday, he shared stunning views of the crescent moon becoming visible after the sun set.

Dr Al Neyadi, 41, arrived at the orbiting laboratory on March 3 for a six-month mission, the Arab world’s first long-duration space trip.

In a video shared on his Twitter, he shows night-time views from the station’s cupola — an observatory module — with the Sun setting in the horizon and then he zooms into the Moon, with a small part lit up from the reflection of the Sun.

“We will see the crescent of Ramadan after the sun sets,” Dr Al Neyadi said.

“When the sun sets it is like twilight, a state in which the sky becomes golden or red.

“The sun is setting now. Everything has turned red and there is twilight for a few seconds. Now you see how the stars and planets appear.

“We see the crescent of Ramadan. May God bring blessings to everyone.”

Astronauts use GMT timings on the station because they see 16 sunrises and sunsets.

This means Dr Al Neyadi will be observing Ramadan using GMT timings if he chooses to fast.

It is not compulsory for Muslims to fast while they are travelling.

“Throughout the six months, we will be passing through very nice occasions like Eid and Ramadan,” Dr Al Neyadi said during a preflight press conference.

“I’m in the definition of a traveller, and we can actually break fast and it’s not compulsory.

“And, actually, fasting is not compulsory if you’re not feeling well. Eating sufficient food is allowed if lack of food, nutrition or dehydration can jeopardise the mission, or maybe put a crew member at risk.”

He said that if he gets the opportunity, he will observe some fasts, and will share some of the meals with his colleagues on board the station.

Dr Al Neyadi is not the first Muslim to spend Ramadan in space.

Prince Sultan bin Salman of Saudi Arabia was the first Muslim in space when he flew the US space shuttle Discovery in 1985.

He was fasting on the day he launched into space, which was the last day of Ramadan.

In his book Seven Days in Space, he spoke extensively about carrying out his Islamic duties during his training and time in space.

He spoke about eating suhoor — the predawn meal — on the day of lift-off, praying on the launch tower before boarding the spaceship, fasting while in space and reading the Quran.

Prince Sultan also spent Eid Al Fitr on the shuttle. He said that he was “ecstatic” to be spending the special day in space and that he would “celebrate it in my own way”.

Malaysian astronaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor also spent a few days of Ramadan in space in 2007.

He launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport.

On May 12, two Saudi astronauts will launch to the ISS as part of the Ax-2 mission, a private trip to the station by Axiom Space.

This will bring the total number of Arabs and Muslim astronauts together in space at the same to a record number of three.

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi speaks to the public - in pictures

Updated: March 24, 2023, 6:45 AM