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.
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
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
Now that the boring stuff is done, we can get into a chart. My example chart is the chart for today (the day I wrote this). 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.
opposite sign; or same mode, same polarity
same mode, different polarity
different element, same polarity, different mode
Let’s find a conjunction
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.
- 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.
Dissociate (out-of-sign) aspects
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. The Sun is opposite Pluto by aspect (but not by sign). Out-of-sign aspects are not as strong. But they are still 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. No trines to the Sun in this chart.
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. Sun sextile Saturn.
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.