NASA Responds To #Broomstick Challenge: Sorry, You’re Probably Not A Witch

Put down the broom before somebody gets hurt. Nina Alizada/Shutterstock

Sorry to inform all you witchy-wannabes participating in the #BroomstickChallenge: you’ve been had.

That’s right. The viral hoax claiming that according to NASA, brooms will only stand upright on February 10 is nonsense. No, there is no gravitational phenomenon that makes your broom magical. Try it today, tomorrow, or even the next day and NASA says that you’ll have the exact same results.

“It’s just physics,” said Astronaut Alvin Drew in a Tweet.

“This is another social media hoax that exemplifies how quickly pseudoscience and false claims can go viral. While this hoax was harmless, it also shows why it’s important for all of us to do some fact-checking and research,” NASA told IFLScience in an emailed statement.

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NASA Earth even weighed in, commenting that there is “no special gravity that only affects brooms” but that the Moon’s gravity does create tides on Earth.

The viral video falsely credited the claims to NASA, showing a standard broom upright from a first-person perspective due to the “gravitational pull” only emitted on February 10. It garnered more than 62,000 in less than 24 hours after being posted.

“Today is the day – the only day – your broom can stand up on its own. And watch this,” said the video poster. “No strings, nothing!”

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The #BroomstickChallenge appears to be based on an urban myth, reports NBC. As the story goes, every year on the spring and fall equinoxes – which don’t fall until March 19 and September 22 of this year – a special property allows eggs to balance on their ends. The vernal and autumnal equinoxes are both days of the year where the length of day and night are the same and have long held special lore as signs of Earth’s rebirth. As it so happens, eggs are the ultimate sign of birth, reports Snopes. But as the organization notes, standing an egg on its end is “something just about anyone can do any day of the year” with the right egg and a little practice. 

As NASA notes, it’s important to check the source of information when it comes to viral trends, many of which can be harmful and leave lasting consequences. (You can thank the internet for dangerous attempts at the Tide Pod Challenge, Hot Water Challenge the Condom-Snorting Challenge and the Forbidden Fruit Challenge, to name a few.)

But every so often, a quirky and relatively harmless Internet challenge makes the rounds. So, take a Twitter stroll and enjoy it while it lasts – it’s only a matter of time until we’ll be telling you to put down the laundry detergent.

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