Clarification: True Node, Mean Node, and North Node

What’s the difference between the terms True Node, Mean Node, and North Node?

The True Node and Mean Node are two different calculations of the Moon’s Nodes.

What’s the Mean Node?

The Lunar Nodes move backward through the Zodiac at a rate of one revolution every 18.5 years. When astronomers calculate the Mean Node, they take the Moon’s rate of motion and average it out. The resulting position is the Mean Node. The Mean Node is always retrograde.

What’s the True Node?

The Nodes are calculated points based on the position of the Moon relative to the Earth and Sun. The difference between the Mean Nodes and True nodes is in the way you calculate them. In theory, the position of the Nodes “wobbles” a bit. Astronomers began to factor this wobble in and called this position the True Node. But it is not necessarily any “truer” than the Mean Node. It’s just a different mathematical approach.

Although the Nodes proceed through the Zodiac signs in a retrograde direction, the True Node moves in the opposite direction for a few days a month. (The opposite of retrograde is “direct.”) This is very different from the mechanism by which Mercury and other planets go retrograde.

Is a direct True Node significant?

Whether mean or true, the Nodes move in a net retrograde direction. But due to the differences in calculation, the True Node moves forward, a.k.a. direct for a few days each month.

There are plenty of ideas about the meanings of retrograde planets that move opposite their normal direction for a period of time. But the True Nodes go direct by a very different mechanism. A direct True Node basically comes down to a mathematical calculation.  So what is the significance of a True Node being direct? Bottom line: I suspect a direct True Node is not of great importance.

Which is better, Mean or True Node?

There is no agreement among astrologers as to which is better to use in chart analysis. There are valid arguments supporting the choice to use either one. They are never more than a few degrees away from each other, so it rarely makes a difference in a birth chart reading. If your True and Mean nodes happen to fall in 2 different signs or 2 different houses, consider that both may be valid!

How do the calculations differ between the Mean and True Node?

In case you’re looking for just a little bit of nerdy detail, here it is. Here’s a quote I lifted from the “fine print” at Keep in mind that the term “osculating” refers to the model used to calculate the True Nodes.

Both are well-defined points in astronomy, but this does not necessarily mean that these definitions make sense for astrology. Mean points, on the one hand, are not true, i.e. if a planet is in precise conjunction with its mean node, this does not mean it be crossing the ecliptic plane exactly that moment. Osculating points, on the other hand, are based on the idealization of the planetary motions as two-body problems, where the gravity of the Sun and a single planet is considered and all other influences neglected. There are no planetary nodes or apsides, at least today, that really deserve the label ”true”.

What do the Nodes mean?

The North Node and South Node of the Moon together represent a directionality in life. The South Node represents persistent emotional coping patterns, beliefs, or imprints on your psyche. The South Node is your “starting point.” It represents your greatest strengths. But you can get stuck there, and that tendency can block the connections you want to make. The North Node shows you new opportunities that often feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar– but they can open exciting new doors for you.

true node, mean node both refer to the north node
The True Node and Mean Node both refer to the Moon’s North Node or Ascending Node.


Leave a Comment


  • Molly Gauthier
    2023-05-02 09:58:27
    I love it that advanced astrologers come here and leave their thoughts. But keep in mind this page is part of a free online class in BEGINNING astrology. Incorporating more advanced concepts like Sabian symbols and (see previous comment) transits into the mix at this point may be confusing to the beginner.
  • Katherine
    2023-04-29 04:12:20
    If you work with the Sabian symbols, the degree is important. I tend to work with both.
  • Molly Gauthier
    2023-03-12 20:31:20
    Hi Brenda - this article is not about timing. It is from a beginner level birth chart reading course. It rarely makes a difference in this context. Thank you for visiting!
  • Brenda
    2023-03-12 16:20:56
    Hi Molly, The mean or true node? Of course it makes a difference. There can be 4 to 6 weeks between the dufference and if you are looking at timing events, it is , I believe one of the most important points.
  • Jade
    2019-10-30 17:46:40
    Direct nodes show a very spiritual inclination.
  • Kat Starwolf
    2019-04-27 15:38:45
    Hi Molly, I'm an astrologer. After noting that several clients and my youngest daughter have Direct Nodes, I'm inclined to believe that there IS a meaning. It just hasn't been discovered yet.