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Discussion of the "Powers" of the Equinox?
Contributed by Rodney M. Nerdahl

It's an Illusion!
The idea that eggs will stand on end around the time of the equinoxes (it's supposed to work on either of equinoxes) is one of the oldest pieces of seasonal folklore.

Scientifically, there's no special force at work that will make an egg balance on end at the time of the equinoxes. The truth is, there's no special balance--gravitational, rotational, atomic, subatomic or whatever you want here--fill in the blank--that makes a special kind of cosmic 'balance.' As a magician might say, 'It's an illusion; it's only an illusion!' Or to paraphrase it another way, 'It's a trick we've play on ourselves; a trick we've play with our minds!'

Eggs Can Stand On End
But, someone will counter, I've tried it and I got an egg to stand on its end at the time of the equinox. Okay. Did they try the experiment a month later, two months earlier, at one of the solstices (when if you take this logic to its extremes--everything is most 'out-of-balance?'). You'll likely get a no! (but you may get a yes!)

Remember that real scientific proof lies in repeated tests!! And you'll discover that an egg can be balanced on end--on any day of the year! The trick lies in getting an egg that's got just the right bumps on its blunt end, so that it'll stand up. Once you've got one, give it a try anytime you like. The egg will ALWAYS stand on end--whenever you try this experiment!! (The hard part, is to preserve an egg, so you can continue your testing long enough to validate this experiment--before the infamous rotten egg smell interferes with your work! :-)

When asked this question about eggs and the equinox, I frequently reply (with a big wink!) that I can get an egg to stand on it's end anytime I want, and I'm not even particularly fussy which egg I pick! I just dimple the end of the egg slightly--and it works every time! (Okay, so it's a lousy joke, but it occasionally gets a laugh....)

Now I won't say that what I've just told you will convince everyone that the old "egg trick" is a folktale pure and simple. (And you will get arguments about this!!) But it is the truth. If people CHOOSE to ignore the facts, there's not much you or I can do about it. Some folks just gotta have things their way--even when those things fly in the face of the truth! So there you have it.

Seasonal Folklore
The original association of this idea was with the spring equinox. Spring, being the season when life returns to the world after the "death" of winter, has always been associated with forms of new life--bunnies, chicks, and of course--eggs! The equinoxes are the times when day and night are of equal length (hence the term equinox which means 'equal night').

The reason that days and nights are of equal length at the equinoxes, is due to the fact that the equator of the earth, and it's orbital path, lie in the same plane! (Remember that our planet's rotational axis is tipped 23.5 degrees to the planet's orbital plane. Thus there are just two times each year, when the two planes coincide (at the equinoxes).

Ad astra (To the stars)

Rod Nerdahl
Rod is an astronomy expert, who served for twenty-six years as Program Director at the Minneapolis Planetarium. Rod is currently serving in his seventeenth year as the astronomical consultant for the Minnesota Weatherguide/Environment Calendar, for which he prepares the astronomical information and illustrations; he is also a Computer Lab Teacher at St. John's Lutheran School in Chaska, MN.

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