Q&A: Egg Balancing on the Equinox

Question: I hear the Spring Equinox is sometime this month. Is it really true that you can balance on egg on its pointy end when this happens? — MJ, Lala Land, CA

Answer: This is one of those rumors that surfaces every year around this time. And to be honest, I really have no idea how it got started. The answer to your question is an emphatic NO, not with any more or less difficulty than you could balance an egg on any other day of the year.

The Spring Equinox, a.k.a. the Vernal Equinox, is on March 20th this year. Some years it’s on March 21. At this time, the rotational axis of the Earth is perpendicular to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. Because of this unique geometry several atypical things happen:

1. The Sun rises at 6 am exactly in the East.
2. The Sun sets at 6 pm exactly in the West.
3. There are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.

Well, not exactly exactly, but close enough for our purposes here. At other times in the year, the Sun rises and sets north or south of East and West, depending on the season. Also, the amount of daylight will be more or less than the amount of night in any 24 hour period.

Perhaps it’s these equalities that provoke that rumor about balancing an egg — coupled with the fact that Easter is around this same time of year. Then again, maybe it has something to do with the astrological sign of the egg.

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