Once again there is some confusion about exactly when Ramadan starts.
It is often said that the Muslim holy month begins on a new moon, but it’s a little more complicated than that. As any astronomer will tell you, the new moon occurs at the precise instant the moon crosses the line from the sun to the earth. However, for Muslims, the new moon starts when the local religious authority actually observes the crescent on the western horizon just after sunset.
In Lebanon, for example, Sunnis start fasting today, Shiites tomorrow. Ramadan starts today in Saudi Arabia, but tomorrow in nearby Egypt.
Last year (2005), I was in Fez in Morocco and observed a partial solar eclipse at about 8:00am on Monday October 3. (A total solar eclipse was visible from Spain, across north Africa and on to Somalia.) By my reckoning, the moon had indeed passed between the sun and the earth and Ramadan should have been on.
But no, Ramadan in Morocco started 2 days later on Wednesday October 5. Our guide, Radouane, was a very devout Muslim, a perfect gentleman and a very well educated person. Still, he couldn’t understand that a new moon occurred at any time other than when his religious leaders told him.
PS. According to Geoscience Australia, this month’s New Moon occurred on Friday, Sep 22 at 11:45 UTC.