Can You Really Balance an Egg During the Equinox?

This is an encore posting of an article we ran in spring of 2010 about balancing an egg on the equinox. 

The first day of spring and the vernal equinox is this week. The vernal equinox marks the start of spring, an autumnal equinox marks the start of fall.  During the spring and fall equinox, the sun is directly over the Earth’s equator and day and night lengths are equal for most of the planet – 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

The earth rotates around the sun on a tilted axis, which doesn’t change. When the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, it experiences warmer, longer days. When the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the sun, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away, experiencing colder and shorter days.

As the earth continues on its path around the sun, there are two points at which the sun hits the Earth perpendicular to the axis. When the earth is in this position, the sun is directly over the equator and there is an equinox. The earth then continues to tilt the opposite side of the sun and the seasons change to winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Where we live in the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox signals the start of spring. The North Pole is tilted toward the sun and days grow longer and warmer while buds on trees and plants begin to sprout. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is occurring. The South Pole tilts away from the sun and the days grow shorter and cooler.

It is believed that during the equinox an egg can balance on end. This is more myth than science, but every year during the equinox, this question arises. Yes, with a little patience you can balance an egg on end during the equinox.

What will happen if you try to balance the egg on March 21st? Or April 20th? Or October 2nd?  The egg will balance the same on any day as it does on the vernal or autumnal equinox. It helps if you try it on a rough surface or choose an egg with a bumpy end for better balance.
The myth comes from an assumption that during the equinox a special gravitational balance exists. The equinox is about balanced light, not balanced eggs or special gravity.

As an aside, a solstice occurs when the poles of the earth are tilted at their maximum away or toward the sun. At winter solstice, the pole is tilted furthest from the sun, at summer solstice it is tilted closest to the sun.

12 replies
  1. RJFerret
    RJFerret says:

    Actually the myth came from a lack of information in a Life magazine article in 1945, of a Chinese tradition of balancing eggs on the first day of spring. In China the season begins halfway between the winter solstice and equinox (the equinox more logically being in the middle of the season).

    That fact was not conveyed by the correspondent, so Westerners presumed the “first day of spring” meant an entirely different time!

    Although I haven’t mentioned it on Twitter yet, I should add this info to the video I posted balancing an egg on Youtube today.


  2. Karla Hayes
    Karla Hayes says:

    If this myth were true…the eggs would not be the only things that were only balanced twice a year. I know a few PEOPLE that tend to be off balance that much.
    **As mentioned, it is important to remember that our “tilt” is not changing…just the Earth’s position as it makes its way around the sun.

    As a retired science teacher I found these concepts very difficult to teach to sixth grade students. It does not help that the sun really does LOOK like it rises and sets each day.

    Karla Hayes, NBCT EA Science

  3. Hillbilly Gardener
    Hillbilly Gardener says:

    GOD gave each of us 5 senses, by which each of us could discern information and a brain to assimilate and correlate the information. This is the oldest of all scientific analysis equipment and information processing that has guided mankind since long before there was such as “science”. Even science is quick to admit that the human brain and senses are more complex and faster than any computer built by human hands. The senses possessed by humans even today cannot be duplicated.

    With modern science, anything that cannot be readily explained (or that they choose not to) is quickly dismissed as “myth”. Often, modern scientists are left looking like “Babbling Buffoons” when someone, at some point in time decides to take an “open minded” approach to a myth without preconceptions. This is why I find it all to easy to dismiss what modern science has to say.

    If it weren’t for “non-scientists”, the Americas would not exist on any map because of the attitude held by early scholars. If it weren’t for non-scientists more than 60% of all of our health and medicinal products we enjoy today would not exist because it was the long-held use of non-scientific products, such as botanicals and etc., that finally pushed science to start taking a look at them. Now today, science has been left with egg on its face and a multi-billion dollar botanical industry exists to fuel what science has finally accepted as fact. Yet the scientific community refuses to accept the simplicity of the fact that they work and must pull them apart and manipulate them in order to come up with something they can explain.

    I have been studying Equinox Eggs off and on for several years now. Why it happens I can not say, nor does it really matter to me. It is enough for me that it happens. Here is what I have found.

    1) Eggs must be balanced in 10 seconds or less and the surface upon which they are balanced must be smooth and flat.
    2) During an equinox (results are slightly better if attempted within 6 hours of the exact equinox, before or after), 80% of a dozen “store-bought” eggs will stand (at room temperature). 90% of fresh eggs will stand (at room temperature). Additionally, the eggs must stand on their SMALL END.
    3) At the mid-point between equinoxes – 20% of store-bought eggs will stand and 24% of fresh eggs will stand (both at room temperature).

    Now is this science? In the literal sense of of the word and by definition – Yes. By practicality – who cares. I have seen what I have seen and experienced what I have experienced and needed no Phd in science to ascertain this information first-hand for myself. As an industrial psychologist once told me regarding humans in general – “My perception is my reality and from my reality I shall not be moved”. I have seen what I have seen, experienced what I have experienced, known what I have known and know these things to be true.

    I need no explanation in order to accept them. The tools GOD gave me are enough. It is good to leave a little mystery to life. Science has done more to destroy the aah and wonder of nature than any other human endeavor.

    • Joe
      Joe says:

      This is the dumbest take I have ever heard. I hope you are a troll, and if not, I hope that you have no offspring to spread your incredible nonsense. I award you no points and may GOD have mercy on your soul, you’re going to need it.

    • jillian
      jillian says:

      Uh, yeah, people used to think the earth was flat, so all science is bad! I am so smart! – This guy

      God gave us reason so that we could use it to make the world better by doing things like making medicine and building roads and making farms more efficient, all of which use science.

  4. cindy
    cindy says:

    I have seen it been done with my own eyes. i even had the pictures to prove it as i knew people wouldnt believe me with out it. dont know how the guy did it but he managed to stand about 7 eggs not all the eggs worked though.

  5. bonnie
    bonnie says:

    This is a very sorry article, for not only has my mother balanced an egg, but my sister saw a friend stand 3 eggs all across her kitchen counter top!!!

  6. Magnolia Thomas
    Magnolia Thomas says:

    I amaze my friends and family year after year of balancing an egg on the spring equinox. Our teacher had us do this for homework…..in 1983! This can also be done anywhere along the equator. Experiment, children. Hands on is awesome

  7. Shaun Stallings
    Shaun Stallings says:

    Why so much hate? Well hate me because I, too, succeeded. For extra credit in my physics class I woke up near midnight in the mid 80’s, made my 3 younger siblings get up, placed a dozen eggs on the sidewalk, and we all teamed up to get 11 out of the dozen to stand on end within a one minute window. None would balance for the many minutes before the exact time, after the first they all very rapidly readily stood, we watched in amazement as they one by one fell over, and we could not get a single one balanced after several minutes of trying afterwards. They still text me every year and thank me for including them in that experience. If it’s a myth now then don’t eat the eggs, and don’t hate the messenger.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *