At the precise moment this article was published, 2:50 a.m. EDT on September 23, the fall equinox began.
On this day, the tilt of Earth’s axis lines up evenly with the sun, meaning both the northern and southern hemispheres receive equal amounts of daylight. This happens twice a year and signifies the arrival of spring and fall.
The word “equinox” comes from the Latin words “aequus” and “nox” which translates into “equal night.” It is on these days that daylight and nighttime are nearly, but not quite, equal. That’s because Earth isn’t quite perfectly round, and the atmosphere bends sunlight, making the sun appear to rise and set slightly before it actually does.
Locally we have around 12 hours and 8 minutes of daylight compared to just 11 hours and 52 minutes of night. We will get closest to 12 hours each on September 27 and 28 with 12hrs 1min and 11hr 59min of daylight, respectively.
The equinoxes have been steeped in astrological traditions for years but have also resulted in a strange myth. Many people have long thought that it is easier to balance things on the equinox. That comes from believing gravity from the sun and moon “balance” out on these days, meaning you can stand everything from brooms to even eggs on their ends.
This isn’t true: There is no change in gravity on or around the equinoxes. In fact, the distance from both the sun and moon is always changing since neither the Earth nor the moon orbit in a perfect circle.
It is no easier to stand an egg on its end on the equinox than on any other day of the year.
No one is quite sure where this myth started, but I learned about it many years ago. Since then, I have stood many eggs up to celebrate the arrival of spring and fall. Here are a few balancing tips:
- Be patient. They are, after all, oval-shaped, and it will probably take a few tries.
- Try different eggs. If one egg refuses to stand up, get another. The location of the yolk inside can make all the difference in the world. A more centered yolk will be easier, while an off-center one will be harder. You can shake or swirl the egg to help center the yolk a bit.
- Use a perfectly flat and level surface. This seems like a no-brainer, but even a slightly unlevel or bumpy surface can make it much more difficult
So, get out there today and celebrate the first day of fall by partaking in an old, bizarre tradition and balance an egg!