Spring Equinox

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Spring Equinox

Lots of folks are likely to end up with egg on their faces today — or at least on their kitchen counters. That’s because they’ll be checking out a seasonal myth. It says that you can balance a raw egg on its end on the equinoxes — but not on any other day.

And today is the vernal equinox here in the northern hemisphere — the beginning of spring. The myth is usually tied to the spring equinox, not fall. Perhaps that’s because of spring’s association with life and rebirth, which often are represented by the egg.

Here’s the basic outline of the story. At the equinox, Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the line to the Sun. That creates a special gravitational “balance” that doesn’t exist at other times of the year. This balance allows you to stand a raw egg on its end — a feat that can’t be achieved on any other date.

That’s not true at all. There’s no difference in the “balance” between Earth and the Sun than at any other time of year.

It’s easy to check it out by trying to stand an egg on end on different days of the year. The egg doesn’t want to cooperate, but with a little patience it can be done. It’s easier to accomplish if the egg has a rough shell and it’s sitting on a rough surface. But many people have accomplished the feat with smooth eggs on smooth surfaces. Just keep trying, and eventually you’ll get the egg-xact formula — on the equinox or any other day of the year.

Tomorrow: counting birthday candles in star clusters.


Script by Damond Benningfield

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