The basics
The Symbols
Modifiers of Meaning

Sun, Moon, & Rising: your “Big Three”

Why are the Sun Moon & Rising signs so important?

These three Zodiac signs are the cornerstones of your story. The foundational parts of your personality. The Sun represents your drives and motivations. The Moon is your emotional side. She tells us what comforts you– and what upsets you. The Rising sign, how you show up in the world.

Taken together, these big three 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. In the language of astrology, it communicates who you are without revealing too much!

How to find your “Big Three” astrology signs

You’ll need your birth chart to locate your Sun, Moon, and Rising signs. Don’t worry; you can get your birth chart online for free in 5 minutes.

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

The Sun

sun glyph - a circle with a dot in the middle

Most people know their Sun sign. It’s the sign you look up 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 passing through that Zodiac sign when you were born. It’s an easy thing to look up because the Sun moves through each of the signs on more or less the same dates every year.

Your Sun sign describes your essence, your character. What drives and motivates you, and the kind and amount of energy you express. If you were a car, the Sun would be your engine.

The Moon

moon glyph - a crescent

The Moon is all about emotion. Your Moon sign in a chart reading describes your feelings, your subjective life experience. Your habit patterns, what makes you feel secure or insecure, how you react.

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.

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

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, and 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 Ascendant is the exact degree of the Zodiac that is rising at the moment of your birth. The Ascendant divides the chart into night and day, top and bottom halves.

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


The Zodiac sign on the ascendant, also called the rising sign, describes your “style,” your identity, how you 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 signs that are very different from one another, showing different or even conflicting sides of the personality. Or they could all be found in the same sign.

What do you know already 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