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David Emery

How to Stand a Broom on End on the Equinox (or Any Other Day of the Year, for That Matter)

By March 7, 2012

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broom standing by itself

I'VE SEEN a rash of Facebook postings over the past few days with folks claiming they were able to stand a broom on end thanks to a supposed "planetary alignment," or the impending vernal equinox, or some such drivel. Many boasted photographic evidence.

As you can see in the photo taken by yours truly above, I managed to reproduce the effect with great success. That broom really is standing on end. But here's the thing: it's a trick, not the result of any spooky celestial phenomenon.

For one thing, the spring equinox, which occurs on March 20, has nothing to do with it. Neither does any planetary alignment. About a week ago Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury were all lined up together in the night sky, as it happens, but astronomers say such events have a negligible effect on earthly objects. The same brooms standing on end today will stand on end a week from now, a month from now, or six months and two-and-a-half-weeks from now. 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 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 particular 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 which should allow the broom to continue standing by itself.

It may not work every time, or with every single broom, but in my case it worked on the very first try with the very first broom I grabbed. Try it yourself!

And while we're at it: egg balancing

The broom trick is a variation on the egg trick, the supposed "phenomenon" of raw eggs standing on end during an equinox (a date on which the earth and sun are aligned such that day and night are of equal length). Again, the positions of heavenly bodies play no real part in this balancing act. Patience, persistence, and careful egg selection do. Not an equinox goes by that people don't write to me and swear that this works — which it does, of course, any day of the year you care to try it.

Learn more
Egg Balancing on the Equinox
Balancing Brooms: It's Not About the Planets
Professor Debunks Equinox Broom Fad
The Truth to the Broom Trick
What Is the Vernal Equinox?

Comments

March 8, 2012 at 12:53 am
(1) desiree says:

so um if its just balance how come it only works when its facing one way and my broom is angled and standing right now?

March 8, 2012 at 4:21 am
(2) jennifer says:

Same here… angeled broom. U sir, may have magic… but I, however cannot get it to work just any day of the year!

March 8, 2012 at 7:46 am
(3) Becky says:

Well, I read about this phenomenon on the Internet…therefore it MUST be true!!! Haha! Some people will believe ANYTHING!!!

March 8, 2012 at 8:45 am
(4) Talent says:

Come on, what a lot of numpties we have here. The bristles are supposed to be at the top and it balances on the stick end. Anyone can make a broom stand on the bristles…. doh. Well, maybe not Desiree or Jennifer!

March 8, 2012 at 8:57 am
(5) Nikkie~0;-) says:

Will it work as well with a mop?

March 8, 2012 at 9:34 am
(6) cjennifer81 says:

There are always skeptics that choose not to believe that things they can’t see can be the cause of anything else. Believe what you want. Desiree and Jennifer are right as far as I’m concerned. It wouldn’t matter how far you spread the bristles an angled broom should not be able to stand up by itself. Angled brooms are hard enough to get to stand against a wall let alone on their own. My husband did this this morning and did not even have to manipulate the broom to get it to stand he just walked over and set it down and let go. It stood there for almost 10 minutes w/ people walking around it, causing vibrations in the floor that should have knocked it over because even brand new bristles on a broom are not that strong. Skeptics really crack me up sometimes.

March 8, 2012 at 10:03 am
(7) lisa says:

Money only works facing one way also. So i bet he can’t explain that. And i also have a angled broom

March 8, 2012 at 10:13 am
(8) David Emery says:

Hey folks, the broom in the photo above is an angled broom.

March 8, 2012 at 10:41 am
(9) boom says:

What’s a broom?

March 8, 2012 at 10:47 am
(10) Anthony says:

You guys need a course in physics. Look up coefficients of static friction, and also centers of gravity, once you get those concepts, you’ll understand what’s going on here.

March 8, 2012 at 11:44 am
(11) alecia says:

My broom is angled and has flimsy bristles and i was able to get it to stand on one end of the head of bristles with the other end completely off the floor…and I’ve tried this trick many times in the past. Last night it took me twice to stand it up!

March 8, 2012 at 11:56 am
(12) Lisa says:

I got it to stand with a jagged bristled broom, as what a lot of people call the straw broom. I think it is amazing….. =0)

March 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm
(13) Rita Wilson says:

Well I just tried it with 3 brooms and it did not work! Maybe cause my brooms have been used to much. lol

March 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(14) Elienne says:

I did this today with a broom that was old, angled, and the bristles were frayed, bent, and really soft. It stood upright without any effort other than standing it up.

March 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm
(15) Paula says:

I got a regular straw broom to stand up, not an angled plastic bristled broom. My 92 year old parents couldn’t believe it! We will be trying it other days of the year just to see that it works no matter what time of year it is.

March 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm
(16) Cydnee says:

If I swing the broom back and forth several times before I stand it up, will it sweep on it’s own too?

March 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm
(17) Wendy says:

Who cares….it’s fun! Lined a bunch of them up at WalMart and left them there….LOL

March 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm
(18) ann says:

Mine is angled and its bristles are not really stiff anymore due to it being so old and its been standing for almost 30 minutes now.

March 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm
(19) Art says:

I got my bottle of beer to stand on end! Amazing.

March 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm
(20) bobtheworm says:

It’s a WITCH!

March 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm
(21) Jeremy says:

You don’t have to spread any bristles or push down on the broom. And the broom doesn’t have to have a flat bottom set of bristles. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepezguyfromla/sets/72157629179057444/with/6819598470/ I took these photos tonight. You can balance a broom in like 5 seconds once you do it a couple of times.

March 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm
(22) Sallie Cwik says:

Yepper s- angled bromm – didn’t press down – new broom and old broom – stood them up and let go – standing for well over an hour now. My daughter’s broom has been up right for over 6 hours and yes it is angled. too. No broad base nothing. I am almost 60 and have never seen this.

March 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm
(23) Laur says:

you didn’t explain the egg phenomenon at ALL

March 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm
(24) Susan says:

My broom stood in my office kitchen for more than 45 hours until we finally took it down because it was a nuisance having to walk around it. Don’t know why, but it happened. I’m going to try it at another time of the year and see if it works too – just for the sake of “science.”

March 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm
(25) xansie says:

My angled broom is standing. Each of my kids placed it up right with just a single movement. My mop is also standing next to my broom out in the middle of the floor. Its been several minutes and my kids are walking back and forth past them and they are still standing. We’ll try it some other time through the year to see if it still works.

March 8, 2012 at 10:39 pm
(26) dragon says:

I found out about this last year and I’ve actually done this several times throught out the year just to screw with some friends that didn’t know about it.. you can do it anytime ..I did it with an old angled broom that the bristles are wore out on..same thing with the egg…but I’m not judging anyone, the way I see it, if you want to belive its a phenomenon then more power to you..

March 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm
(27) brandon says:

my broom is angled and i did not know about any trick when i did it, i picked it up and sat it down lightly without pushing the bristles down and it has been standing for 20 minutes now even while me and my roommate jumped up and down around it….. so what i am saying is…… you sir are wrong!!!

March 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm
(28) optimistic skeptic says:

Angled broom works because the base (bristle end of the broom) is heavy. Try it with a heavier “angled” broom handle. It won’t work if the center of gravity gets too far up the broom handle. Simple physics.

March 9, 2012 at 12:13 am
(29) bo says:

You do not need to push down or modifier the broom to make it stand move around until you feel it pull down like a magnet.

March 9, 2012 at 12:18 am
(30) djord says:

At work today a coworker had a push broom standing up, so explain that skeptics.

March 9, 2012 at 12:35 am
(31) NAIVE FOLLOWERS VS EDUCATED INDEPENDENT THINKERS says:

It’s funny to see people so willing to believe nonsense rather than seeking the truth with scientific facts. And they further humiliate themselves by calling people skeptics and “laughing at” them. Not skeptics my naive friend… Educated persons.

March 9, 2012 at 3:06 am
(32) Jen says:

The vernal equinox is not until the 21st of March.

March 9, 2012 at 5:10 am
(33) Payton says:

I can’t tell which of you are trolling and which of you aren’t. Pretty awesome, I must say. Anyways, neither side can be -proven- correct, as with many superstitions and urban legends. So this argument will continue for years to come.

March 9, 2012 at 8:22 am
(34) cooper says:

that trick is so old it’s got dinosaur s**t on it. :/

March 9, 2012 at 9:39 am
(35) michael says:

I think it’s magic when my teenagers hold the broom and move it back and forth in the kitchen….

March 9, 2012 at 9:47 am
(36) Emily says:

When the broom sweeps the floor by itself, then I will be impressed.

March 9, 2012 at 10:00 am
(37) katy says:

I tried it this morning after seeing multiple photos on facebook of my friends doing it my broom it as an angled handled by about 20 degrees and its caked with dust at the bottom as it is about 6 years old so the bristles are not stiff and it worked

March 9, 2012 at 10:37 am
(38) Angie says:

My son stood the broom on end last night and left it there, it was still standing this morning. He did not mess witht the brissels or anything. Just grabbed the broom, set it in the middle of the floor and walked away…

March 9, 2012 at 10:52 am
(39) Jamie H says:

So after seeing several posts I myself decided to give it a try. I have never been able to do it before, I didn’t even push down on the broom to spread the bristles and got it on the first try. A phenomenon??? I don’t know and I don’t really care. Let’s see if I can get it to stay up that will be the cool part with two dogs and a 15 month old

March 9, 2012 at 10:54 am
(40) Stephanie says:

Yeah, you didn’t explain the egg phenomenon at all. And I don’t have a broom so I used one of my crutches and it worked. I don’t know if it’s necessarily the equinox being near that’s doing it, but there is also a solar storm going on right now that’s messing with the poles. So maybe that’s why it’s working for more days that just the 20th or the 21st. I dunno, just sayin’…

March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm
(41) michelle says:

Of everything in the worked you can choose to care about..you choose to stand brooms on their bristles and call it magic? Wow…people these days.

March 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm
(42) Karen Walker says:

You are wrong. The egg ‘trick’ does not work every day. I

March 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm
(43) Karen Walker says:

Oh…Don’t cheat…use the smaller end of the egg!

March 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm
(44) anonymous says:

its embarassing to be american sometimes when people don’t understand basic physics and have at least a high school education. read an article about center of gravity and balance – nothing fancy, and nothing to do with the equinox.

March 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm
(45) Ringo says:

I hope you guys know that if the foundation of your house is tilted then that has an affect on the situation. you may not even know it but the ground shifts more than you think and your house may be at a minute angle.

March 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm
(46) Jamie says:

I believe it is suppose to be the stick side and not the bristle side. my cousin has pictures of his broom standin on the stick side. so strange. have fun with it!

March 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm
(47) hrabble says:

My wife sometimes calls me bristle-head, some egg-head, and she once stood me on my head, on the equinox, and I balanced perfectly. For two hours.

March 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm
(48) Dina says:

My broom has been standing in my office in the middle of a warehouse with fork lift trucks and machines running around it for the past hour now and its still standing. The vibrations from everything should’ve knocked it over by now but its still standing. Well, till my boss was a jerkasaur and knocked it over.

March 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm
(49) amber says:

your floor…has many bumps in…so while it might not stand another way…it will another…its not a phenemon people…get over it!!! Its just simply a trick..nothing special…and like he said the equinox doesnt come until the 20th anyway!

I bet you people who believe in this believe in big foot too!

March 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm
(50) Brian says:

If this much effort and brain power was put into something important we could solve alot real problems in this world

March 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm
(51) Missy says:

Well, no matter what you believe, it is fun. We did it in the middle of our pod of four first grade classrooms and the students thought it was fantastic!! Why do people have to be so mean about things? Lighten up!!! Have fun!!

March 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm
(52) Vickie says:

Ahhh, so that’s how Moses did it!

March 9, 2012 at 9:20 pm
(53) sandman says:

thats bullsh all i had to do was take the broom and stand it up.
no trick what so ever and the bristles are not stiff at all. no mashing down no nothing

March 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm
(54) Nadea says:

I never pressed the the bristles down. I never tried to balance it. Just picked it up and put it down. Oh and it is not a flat bottom broom. Also did it with a swiffer sweeper and a large mop broom like the ones janitors use. So riddle me why that worked. Just because you could recreate it with some playing around dosent mean it had nothing to do with the planets…i supposed the moon has nothinh to do with the tides either!

March 10, 2012 at 12:15 am
(55) joan says:

I have 5 brooms standing in my garage. They are all different types. It doesn’t matter. Just stand them up. Weird. I liked the comment about once they begin to sweep, that will really be something to see.

March 10, 2012 at 2:35 am
(56) Nameless says:

I have an angled broom about 7 years old and has seen many better days. It stands 48 1/4″ high weighs about 1-2 lbs, or lighter. I believe you can stand a broom straight up any day of the year but this broom has about 1/3 of it’s bristles left and when I say that, ( it has seen fire before) so not all bristles are the same size. Also the placement of bristles left are mostly in the middle but in batches. I took this broom and very quickly stood it up and let go, it leaned over just about 1/2″ from it’s center of gravity like it was going to fall but moved back in it’s position. I didnt know what to think of this so I wasted around 20 min out of my life repeating this at different angles/ directions and still it worked. I got another broom out of the garage lot newer than this one and I had to hold it in place for a few more seconds but it still stood straight up. So I just waisted five min of your life for reading this… It’s a broom that you can stand straight up. Try and stand a nickel on edge it’s the same with a broom, means nothing except it’s got a center of gravity like all things do.

March 10, 2012 at 3:53 am
(57) Darcy says:

well I tried this at worked today and nobody ever told me that I was suppose to push down on the bristles and the brooms stood straight anyway. My co-worker tried her broom (we’re Custodians lol), hers liked the upright position so she left it there for four hours…It was near a door and when the door opened with the wind blowing in, it did not fall over like it should of…hmm interesting…lol!

March 10, 2012 at 6:45 am
(58) Phil says:

Mine is standing on end right now. ;) .

March 10, 2012 at 7:34 am
(59) donna says:

if a scientist cant explain it then it cant happen right!

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