The exact start of Ramadan is often up in the air until just before the holiday begins because it is determined by a sighting of the new moon. Many places still depend on someone seeing the new moon with the naked eye in order to declare the holiday. As a result, Ramadan’s start can vary from place to place because of weather conditions and other factors that affect how easily the moon is seen.
However, countries are increasingly relying on astronomical calculations and observatories, leading to a more uniform start time. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Yemen all declared today the official start of the holiday, according to MSNBC.