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Astrology FAQ

Here are frequently asked questions and answers about astrology.

What is an ephemeris?

The plural of ephemeris is ephemerides.

An ephemeris is a table of the astronomical positions of the celestial bodies, given for specific times. Astrologers use ephemerides that give the positions for ever day at midnight (or at noon) Universal Time (UT). Universal Time (UT) is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

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What is a horoscope?

A horoscope is a chart or diagram representing the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, astrological aspects, and sensitive angles at a specific time, such as the moment of a person’s birth. Your astrological birth chart is your horoscope. It stops the cosmic clock, capturing the positions of the planets at the moment of your entrance into our world. It is a blueprint of your character and potentials, a cosmic portrait. This is also known as a birth chart or natal chart.

Forecasts are commonly mistaken for horoscopes because newspapers began printing forecasts for each sun sign and calling them “horoscopes” about 100 years ago.

Ancient Definition of Horoscope

Strictly speaking, the horoscope referred to the Ascendant since it is based upon the “hour” and can be considered as the “hour pointer.”

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What is a cusp?

In astrology, a cusp can refer to either signs or houses. Here are the two types of cusps in astrology.

  1. The imaginary line that separates a pair of consecutive signs in the zodiac (cusp of a sign). Many regard the cusp as a period of six days – that is 3 days before and after the time of sun sign change. Some claim that natives born during the 6-day cusp will be endowed with two sun signs, although most astrologers agree that you cannot have two sun signs. The sun is never recognized as being in two signs simultaneously.
  2. The line of division between two Houses on the horoscope (House cusp). A birth planet is stronger when it is on the cusp than when it is in the last degrees of a House. The angular cusps are doubtless the sharpest.

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What are personal planets?

“The personal planets” in general refers to the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars.

However, in your birth-chart, the five personal planets are: The Sun, the Moon, the ruler of your Sun sign, the ruler of your Moon sign, and the ruler of your Rising Sign. For example, if Uranus rules your Aquarius Sun, then Uranus becomes a personal planet for you, even though Uranus is not included in the general list of “personal planets.”

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Which planets are malefic?

The traditional malefic planets in astrology are Mars and Saturn. For practical purposes, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto can be considered malefics. Some add Neptune to this list because Neptune can cause confusion, delusion, and dissipation.

Mercury is rather neutral.

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Which planets are benefic?

What is benefic? Benefic means a beneficial influence. The traditional benefic planets in astrology are the Venus and Jupiter. For practical purposes, the sun, moon, Venus, and Jupiter can all be considered benefic. Some add Neptune to this list, although some consider Neptune a malefic because it can cause confusion, delusion, and dissipation. So, why do some astrologers consider Neptune a benefic? Well, because Neptune, like a fairy godmother, can make dreams come true.

Mercury is rather neutral.

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When is each planet in Fall?

The Sun is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Libra.
The Moon is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Scorpio.
Mercury is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Pisces.
Venus is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Virgo.
Mars is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Cancer.
Jupiter is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Capricorn.
Saturn is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Aries.
Uranus is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Taurus.
Neptune is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Aquarius (some astrologers say Capricorn).
Pluto is in “fall” when it is in the sign of Libra (some astrologers say Virgo).

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When is Each Planet in Detriment?

The Sun is in detriment when it is in the sign of Aquarius.
The Moon is in detriment when it is in the sign of Capricorn.
Mercury is in detriment when it is in either Sagittarius or Pisces.
Venus is in detriment when it is in either Scorpio or Aries.
Mars is in detriment when it is in either Libra or Taurus.
Jupiter is in detriment when it is in either Gemini or Virgo.
Saturn is in detriment when it is in either Cancer or Leo.
Uranus is in detriment when it is in the sign of Leo.
Neptune is in detriment when it is in the sign of Virgo.
Pluto is in detriment when it is in the sign of Taurus.

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What are the Major Aspects?

The aspects in astrology that are commonly known as the major aspects are the conjunction (0°), the sextile (60°), the square (90°), the trine (120°), and the opposition (180°).

The rest of the aspects are commonly known as the minor aspects.

To learn more, see the Aspects Lesson.

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Which are the angular houses?

The angular Houses in astrology are Houses 1, 4, 7, and 10. Planets placed in these houses have “accidental dignity.” They are strong, meaning that their effects have more chances of being felt. Whether the strong effects are positive or negative depends on other chart factors, such as essential dignity and aspects to other planets.

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What are the Oriental Quadrants?

The Oriental Quadrants in a birth chart consist of Houses 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, and 12. The technical definition is this: the section between the Ascendant and the Midheaven, and also the section between the Descendant and the I.C. (nadir).

If you divide the birth chart into 4, the Oriental Quadrants would be the top-left and the bottom-right quadrants of the birth chart.

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What is Peregrine?

A planet is peregrine if it’s in a sign with no essential dignity: where it is neither dignified nor debilitated. A planet is not considered peregrine if it is in mutual reception with another planet.

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Which are the Mutable Signs?

The mutable signs of the zodiac are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

There is one mutable sign of each element. Gemini is mutable air. Virgo is mutable earth. Sagittarius is mutable fire. Pisces is mutable water.

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Which are the Cardinal Signs?

The cardinal signs of the zodiac are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

There is one cardinal sign of each element. Aries is cardinal fire. Cancer is cardinal water. Libra is cardinal air. Capricorn is cardinal earth.

To learn more, see the Elements Lesson.

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Which are the Fixed Signs?

The fixed signs of the zodiac are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, constituting the Fixed Quadruplicity.

There is one fixed sign of each element. Taurus is fixed earth. Leo is fixed fire. Scorpio is fixed water. Aquarius is fixed air.

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What is the anaretic degree?

The anaretic degree is the 29th degree of any zodiac sign. This is considered an unfavorable position for a planet.

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Which are the Water Signs of the zodiac?

The water signs of the zodiac are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. They are considered emotional.

There is one water sign for each quality. Cancer is cardinal water. Scorpio is fixed water. Pisces is mutable water.

See characteristics of the water signs.

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Which are the Earth Signs of the zodiac?

The earth signs of the zodiac are Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn. They are considered the practical ones.

There is one earth sign for each quality. Capricorn is cardinal earth. Taurus is fixed earth. Virgo is mutable earth.

See characteristics of the earth signs.

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Which are the Fire Signs of the zodiac?

The fire signs of the zodiac are Aries, Leo, Sagittarius. They are considered the inspirational signs in the sense that they inspire action.

There is one fire sign for each quality. Aries is cardinal fire. Leo is fixed fire. Sagittarius is mutable fire.

See characteristics of the fire signs.

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Which are the Air Signs in the zodiac?

The air signs of the zodiac are Gemini, Libra, Aquarius. They are considered the mental or intellectual signs.

There is one air sign for each quality. Libra is cardinal air. Aquarius is fixed air. Gemini is mutable air.

See characteristics of the air signs.

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What is a Biquintile aspect?

A biquintile aspect in astrology is an aspect of 144 degrees, or two-fifths of the circle.

To learn more, see the Aspects Lesson.

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What is a Quintile aspect?

A quintile aspect in astrology is an aspect of 72 degrees, or one-fifth of the circle. It was proposed by Kepler.

To learn more, see the Aspects Lesson.

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What are the dates for each Sun Sign?

Here are the approximate dates for Zodiac Sun Signs:

Aries: approximately March 20 – April 22
Taurus: approximately April 21 – May 22
Gemini: approximately May 21 – June 22
Cancer: approximately June 21 – July 22
Leo: approximately July 21 – August 22
Virgo: approximately August 21 – September 22
Libra: approximately September 21 – October 22
Scorpio: approximately October 21 – November 22
Sagittarius: approximately November 21 – December 22
Capricorn: approximately December 21 – January 22
Aquarius: approximately January 20 – February 19
Pisces: approximately February 18 – March 21

The Sun moves into a new zodiac sign approximately every month, anywhere between 19th and the 23rd of our month. That group of days is called a cusp, meaning the span of days in which the Sun may change sign (there is also another meaning for “cusp” in astrology). However, being born during those days does NOT automatically mean that you have 2 Sun signs (a common misconception). There is an exact time at which the center of the Sun moves into a new sign. Birth charts are calculated using an astronomical ephemeris which charts the exact time of a Sun sign change for every year. If you were born on a cusp of any month, you must check an ephemeris to see exactly where the Sun was at the time of your birth.

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