THE autumn equinox marks the end of summer and occurs on one of four days between September 21 and 24.
Here’s everything you need to know about the autumnal equinox and whether you can actually balance an egg on this day.
What is the autumnal equinox?
The autumnal equinox an event which is celebrated around the world and it’s when day and night will be almost equal in most locations.
The date marks the Northern Hemisphere’s autumnal equinox and the Summer Hemisphere’s spring equinox.
Contrary to popular belief, the event isn’t all day long, it actually occurs at a specific time when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the Earth’s rotational axis is tilted neither away nor towards the sun.
Astronomers also see this as when autumn officially starts in the Northern Hemisphere – even though meteorologists regard it as starting on September 1.
When is the autumnal equinox?
The autumnal equinox this year falls on the September 23 and occurs between September 21 and 24.
But the next time the date will fall on the 21st is 2092 and in 2393 the equinox will occur on September 24.
Astronomically the September equinox marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn but for meteorologists autumn begins in the Northern hemisphere three weeks before and ends November 30.
Can you really balance an egg on the autumn equinox?
Many people claim that you can balance an egg or a broom on their ends when the equinox occurs because of the gravitational pull.
But the truth is, you can balance an egg any day of the year if you have the right egg and practice it.
Egg balancing is a traditional Chinese practice that is often connected with Lichun, the solar term for the Chinese springtime, and an egg is used to symbolise new life.
Boffins investigate whether you really can balance an egg
Egg balancing, most popular at the spring equinox in March but said to be possible in both seasons, has attracted publicity in recent years — with scientists sceptical and ritual-makers adamant.
Finally a scientist has published research into the matter and concluded that yes indeed, he could balance an egg — actually several eggs — at the moment of the equinox.
But, on the other side of the coin, he was also able to do so at lots of other times.
“The upshot is that, as far as I can tell, there isn’t too much relationship between astronomical phenomena and balancing eggs.
It is basically a function of the shape of the egg and the surface,” said astronomer Frank D. Ghigo. Ghigo, of the University of Minnesota, decided to study egg balancing after receiving questions about it from members of the public who had read about the annual spring egg balancing festival in New York City.
Ghigo used four samples of a dozen eggs each, which he attempted to balance on their large ends on a Formica tabletop each day between Feb. 27 and April 3, 1984.
The spring equinox occurred on March 20, 1984.
Ghigo found the eggs have many bumps and irregularities and with patience some of them could be made to balance virtually every day — while some eggs would simply never balance, on the equinox or otherwise.
He concluded that “the mood and persistence of the balancer has a major effect on the balancing rate. If one is impatient or nervous, the rate is low.”
Over time, Ghigo found, the percentage of eggs he could balance improved, concluding “I think I got better, just through practice.”
Source: Associated Press, 1987
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