Dubai:  The first day of fasting in the UAE this year will likely start on June 18, Thursday, according to an expert.

Rohan Roberts, lead astronomer and founder of Café Scientifique Dubai,  said about 3 per cent of the new moon will be visible on the eve of June 17 before it sets over the western horizon at 7:54pm, making June 18 the first day of Ramadan.

“It seems very likely that Ramadan will be declared to start on 18th June,” Roberts told Gulf News.

He also predicted that Eid Al Fitr will possibly fall on July 17, with the new moon setting by 7:21 pm on the eve of July 16.

No official announcement has yet to be released on the dates of Ramadan and Eid, which have traditionally been based on the actual sighting of the moon with human eyes.

On May 29, the Sharjah Planetarium also predicted that Ramadan this year is likely to start on June 18 and that Eid al-Fitr would fall on Friday, July 17 (first of the Hijri month of Shawwal).

Roberts, however,  said that anyone can check for themselves when the Islamic holy month and Eid celebration will start just by downloading free apps that predict accurate moon rise/set times.

He noted that some places have already started using technology in lieu of traditional sightings.

“A few countries have decided to do away with traditional sightings of the moon and have opted to use the tools of science that can make accurate and reliable predictions of the moon. Moon sightings can be affected by cloud cover, haze, dust, humidity, the eyesight of the observers.”