The STORY in your chart
Modifiers of Meaning
© 2021 Molly C. Gauthier

Sun, Moon, & Rising: your “Big Three”

Why are the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs so important?

 Why are they the Big Three?

The Sun, Moon and rising (or ascendant) signs represent foundational parts of your personality, your life path, and your story. Taken together, these three zodiac signs form what I call your astrological “handshake.” When you meet another astrologer or introduce yourself to a group of astrologers, it’s a polite gesture to offer this information. Hi, I’m Molly – Aries Sun, Leo Moon, Libra rising. In the language of astrology, it communicates some interesting information about you– without revealing everything!

I'm Molly! Aries Sun, Leo Moon, Libra rising.

How to find your “Big Three” zodiac signs

You’ll need your birth chart to locate your Sun, Moon, and Rising signs. 

How to get your birth chart online— free birth chart calculator
(It’s easy! Only takes a few minutes.)

Your Sun sign

Most people already know their Sun sign, before they even get into birth charts. That’s because the Sun sign is the easiest. All you need is your birthday to look up your sign in the daily horoscopes.

When you say, “I’m an Aries” or “I’m a Virgo,” what you’re really saying is that you were born when the Sun was in that Zodiac sign. 

If you were a car, the Sun would be your engine.

Your Sun sign describes the core of your personality:

  • Your essence
  • Your character
  • Your ego
  • What drives and motivates you
  • The kind and amount of energy you express

Your Moon sign

The Moon is all about emotion and security.

Your Moon sign in a chart reading describes:

  • Your feelings
  • Your emotional and family patterns
  • Your subjective life experience
  • Your habit patterns
  • Your sense of safety
  • What makes you feel secure or insecure
  • How you react and process

If you were a car, the Moon would be your interior. Is it cozy, smooth, and comfortable, or is it a rough, messy ride? The planetary aspects to the Moon tell more of the story.

If you have been following along with the course, you already have your chart. Now it’s just a matter of locating the Moon’s glyph ☽ and identifying the sign the Moon is in. If you need some guidance, you can pull up my 3-step guide, How to find your Moon sign.

Your Rising Sign (a.k.a. Ascendant)

(often abbreviated to AC)

rising sign in a chart
the rising sign in a chart

You must have a fairly accurate time of birth to calculate your rising sign. This is because the rising sign changes every 2 hours or so.

The sky is in constant motion. The birth chart is a snapshot in time. The far left side of the chart represents the eastern horizon, where the Sun, Moon, and planets rise in the morning.

The rising, or ascendant sign is that Zodiac that is rising over the Eastern horizon at the moment of your birth. The Ascendant divides the chart into night and day, top and bottom halves. If you were born at sunrise, the Sun will be near the ascendant.

(The ascendant degree is also the cusp of the first house in many house systems.)

Take a deep dive into the meaning of your rising sign. Check out the free mini-course from Molly Gauthier.

Your Rising Sign: Gateway to the Birth Chart 

The zodiac sign on the ascendant, also called the rising sign, describes:

  • Your style
  • Your identity
  • The quality of your presence
  • The way people perceive you
  • How you show up in the world
  • How you believe you are “supposed” to show up in the world

If you were a car, your rising sign would be your chassis, which may or may not match your “engine” (the Sun).

Or, you could say: The rising sign describes you on the job interview, and the Sun sign describes you on the job. The Moon is you on your day off.

What does it mean to be a double or a triple Zodiac sign?

You’ve probably heard someone described as a “double Pisces,” a “double Leo,” or a “triple Gemini.” Double means that two of the “big 3” are the same sign. When the Sun, Moon, and Rising are all the same sign, that’s a triple.

  • Being a double makes you VERY characteristic of that sign. Double Cancer is very nurturing, very sentimental. Double Virgo is very precise, very detail-oriented.
  • Being a triple makes you EXTREMELY characteristic of that sign. Triple Taurus, for example, is extremely sensual, extremely stubborn. Triple Capricorn is extremely hardworking, extremely responsible.

What does my Sun, Moon, Rising combination mean?

Newcomers to astrology often try to take the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs and squish them together to come up with something more specific than this: you are all three. These three pieces represent different sides of your personality. Some people’s Big Three are in Zodiac signs that are very different from one another, showing different and even conflicting sides of the personality. 

Two or three could all be found in the same sign or the same element, like the fire signs Aries and Leo. Or in the same mode or quality, like the fixed signs Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio. The similarities and differences between these three signs are what make your Big Three interesting.

What do you know about the signs of your Sun, Moon, and Ascendant? How are they similar? What are the differences between them? How do you relate to the signs? Do you relate better to one than the others?

The Rising Sign and facial features

video preview

You can also check out my video, Astrology of the Face to see some fascinating shared features among people with the same rising sign.

Another great resource: Years ago, a researcher put together a database of headshots organized by Sun, Moon, and Rising signs. You can still access their work at

If you don’t know your astrology symbols yet, please refer to this easy guide to the astrology symbols.

What are your “Big Three” signs? Do you feel like they describe you?