Molly,

Do the ten and fifteen degree orbs (for planets and the sun & moon, respectively) apply for all other aspects as well? (As in, does this apply for sextile, trine, square, semi-sextile, and opposition, too?)

I have not been able to locate a website that not only explains what the aspects mean (which I have found in abundance) but also how to figure out aspects within my natal chart or composite charts myself.

Thank you!
Ambre

Hi Ambre— thanks for your question. I have been meaning to write this down for a while, and your question gives me the motivation I needed.

I’m going to try to teach you to eyeball the major aspects in a chart. Once you get the hang of it, you can find aspects in a chart quickly and easily, without using a protractor (like I did with my first hand-drawn charts), without an aspect grid, without those confusing lines in the middle of the chart.

The boring but important stuff

Step one: memorize the elements and modes

Memorize the element and mode for each sign.

Learn them well. If I ask you to name the mutable signs, you should be able to just rattle them off. Gemini Virgo Sag Pisces. Bam bam bam bam! Earth signs: Taurus Virgo Capricorn. Bam bam bam! If I ask you what Leo is, you should be able to tell me right off, fixed fire. Bam!

The closer you are to “bam!” the easier it will be to pick out major aspects from the chart.

Step two: memorize the polarities

Memorize your yin and yang signs (also known as polarities). It’s easy if you know your elements. Water and earth sign are yin, fire and air signs are yang.

Step three: memorize the opposite pairs

You should be able to recognize these on sight too. Opposing signs have a lot in common because they are the same mode, same polarity.

  • Aries – Libra (cardinal yang)
  • Taurus – Scorpio (fixed yin)
  • Gemini – Sagittarius (mutable yang)
  • Cancer – Capricorn (cardinal yin)
  • Leo – Aquarius (fixed yang)
  • Virgo – Pisces (mutable yin)

Now the fun starts

Click to see full-sized chart

Now that the boring stuff is done, we can get into a chart. My example chart is the chart of today. The planets have made plenty of good aspects for us to look at. Go ahead and pop it up on your screen or print it out, so you can follow along.

I know my elements, modes, opposite pairs, and polarities like the back of my hand, and I find aspects as easily as I breathe. The process happens automatically in my head. I’m going to walk you through it here. Let me know if I leave something out.

Let’s find a conjunction

Conjunction
same sign
Opposition
opposite sign, or same modality, same polarity
Square
same modality, different polarity
Trine
same element
Sextile
different element, same polarity, different modality

The 05 next to the Sun tells me how far into Cancer the Sun is. Degrees are numbered 00 through 29 for each sign.
30 degrees x 12 signs = 360 degrees, a circle.

The Sun is at 05 Cancer, yes?

A conjunction to the Sun would be a planet within 15 degrees* of 05 Cancer. Do you see one here? Venus at 10 Cancer, yes? The “orb” is the number of degrees off of exact the aspect is. 05 Cancer to 10 Cancer is a 5 degree difference. This is a Sun-Venus conjunction with a 5 degree orb. Got that?

Let’s find a square

The degrees that square the Sun at 05 Cancer are 05 Aries and 05 Libra (cardinal yang).

So, do you see a planet at 05 Aries? That would be a square to the Sun. And yes, we have the Moon at 05 Aries. So the Sun and Moon in this chart are square with a (roughly) zero degree orb. This is the tightest orb you’ll see.

The tighter the orb, the more powerful the aspect. So this is a very powerful square.

*Note: Allowable orb

Allowable orb is the number of degrees off exact the aspect can be, and you’ll still call it an aspect. Different astrologers use different orbs; there’s no set rule about it. If you want to start with mine, you’re welcome to. If you prefer to use wider orbs or tighter orbs, you won’t be incorrect. It is completely up to you.

Conjunction & opposition: 10 degrees
Square & trine: 8 degrees
Sextile: 6 degrees

I bump these orbs up for aspects involving the Sun and Moon. 15 degrees for conjunction & opposition, 12 degrees for square & trine, 9 degrees for sextile.

Let’s find an opposition

Back to our example. Do you see a planet at 05 Capricorn, the degree of exact opposition to the Sun?

No… but do we see a planet within 15 degrees of 05 Capricorn?

Yes, we have Jupiter at 19 Capricorn. So we have Sun opposite Jupiter in this chart. It’s a 14 degree orb, so it’s a weak aspect. But if you use wide-ish orbs like me, it is there.

Out of sign

And (you might have missed this) we have Pluto at 29 Sagittarius. How does this work? Well, 29 Sagittarius is the last degree of Sag. The next degree after that is 00 Capricorn. It is just 6 degrees away from 05 Capricorn, so it is within our orb. This is called a dissociate aspect, or an out-of-sign aspect. The modes and polarities do not match, but it is within the allowable orb. So we do have Sun opposite Pluto in this chart. Out-of-sign aspects are not as strong as regular aspects. But they are valid.

Let’s find a trine

Let’s look for trines now. The Sun is at 05 Cancer. Cancer is a water sign. So to look for trines, we’ll look for other planets in the other water signs, Scorpio and Pisces. I see nothing in Scorpio, and Uranus at 22 Pisces. 05 Cancer to 22 Pisces is a 17 degree orb, too wide for me.

Let’s find a sextile

Let’s look for sextiles now. The Sun is at 05 Cancer (cardinal water). We’re looking for same polarity (yin) different element (earth). If that confuses you, just remember it’s the second sign away on either side. Virgo (mutable earth) and Taurus (fixed earth)— I find Saturn at 05 Virgo and the part of fortune (the circle with an x in it) at 05 Taurus.

Now, find ‘em yourself.

So how did I do? Are you able to find some aspects now?

I see a few more conjunctions, one of them out of sign.
I see a few more oppositions and another couple of squares.
I see a few trines, one of them out of sign.
I see a few great sextiles.
Can you find them?

Now do this with the charts of your friends, family, pets, whatever. Practice, practice.

Questions?

If you have a question, I’ll be around to answer it. I won’t answer “do it for me” type questions, but I’m most happy to answer “I’m doing the work and I need help” type questions. If you haven’t memorized your elements and modes (see the “boring but important stuff,” above), forget it!! Do the work!!