How to Stand a Broom on End During the Spring Equinox

Or Any Other Day of the Year, for That Matter

Broom Leaning Against Wall
Yutthana Teerakarunkar / EyeEm / Getty Images

Every year Facebook posts appear initiated by people who claim they were able to stand a broom on its bristled end thanks to a supposed "planetary alignment," or the vernal, or spring, equinox. Many post photos as evidence.

You can reproduce this effect if you wish, but you should know that it's a trick, not the result of any spooky celestial phenomenon.

Spring Equinox Irrelevant

For one thing, the spring equinox, which occurs every year in late March, has nothing to do with brooms standing on end. Neither do other planetary alignments. For example, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn aligned most recently in 2016, but astronomers say such events have negligible effects on earthly objects. The same brooms standing on end today will stand on end a week from now, a month from now, or four months from now, regardless of the positioning of the planets. You just have to know the trick.

The Trick

Take any flat-bottomed broom—it can be angled or straight—with relatively stiff bristles, and stand it up so that the bottom is flat on the floor. Try balancing it and letting go. If it won't stay upright by itself—some will, some won't, depending on weight, dimensions, and center of gravity—then push straight down, forcing the bristles to spread apart on each side. Depending on the broom, you may have to use your fingers to spread the bristles evenly.

Then gently let up on the downward pressure, balancing the broom upright as you release it. The spread bristles will contract somewhat but not completely, forming a relatively stable base that should allow the broom to continue standing by itself.

It might not work every time or with every broom, but, generally, it should work the first time you try it and likely with the first broom you grab.

The Balancing Egg

The broom trick is a variation on the egg trick, the supposed "phenomenon" of raw eggs standing on end during, and only during, an equinox, a date on which the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the sun and the Earth and sun are aligned such that day and night are of equal length.

Again, the positions of heavenly bodies play no part in this balancing act. Patience, persistence, and careful egg selection do. Not an equinox goes by that people don't post messages on social media or send emails swearing that this trick works—which it does, of course, any day of the year.

A Hoax Is a Hoax

In 2012, Facebook was in a frenzy as users posted pictures of freestanding broomsticks, which they said balanced on their own because of the vernal equinox and the special alignment of the planets, according to LSUNow.com, a website produced by Louisiana State University.

But LSU professor of physics and astronomy Bradley Schaefer dispelled these claims, the university website noted. "I can tell you very confidently that astronomically, the equinox has absolutely nothing to do with [balancing brooms]," he said.

Schaefer dismissed the whimsical trick as a simple balancing act. He said the myth initially claimed that an egg can stand on its end only during an equinox, but the broom phenomenon shares the same premise. "Science is all about dispelling these old wives' tales, these urban myths, these stupid Internet memes," he added.