What is an Aspect?
The Sun, Moon, and planets are located on a circle that is known in astronomy as the ecliptic plane. Because the planets are located on this circle, we can refer to the distance between the 2 planets by the number of degrees that separate them.
For example, two planets that are in opposite directions are 180 degrees apart. A distance of 180 degrees, according to astrologers, causes the astrological influence of the two planets to “mix together” and affect the person. There are many other distances that also cause the two planetary influences to mix together, such as 0, 90, 120, and 60 degrees. Each of these angles is called an aspect. Some astrologers use many other aspects as well.
Definition of Terms used in Aspects
The orb of an aspect is how far from exact it is. For example, a square aspect is 90 degrees. If 2 planets are separated by 91 degrees (or by 89 degrees) then the 2 planets are in square aspect with a 1 degree orb. In other words they are 1 degree from being in exact square aspect.
The larger the orb, the weaker the aspect. An aspect with a small orb is very powerful. Some astrologers use much larger orbs than others. The allowable orb for a square aspect is believed by some astrologers to be as little as 2 or 3 degrees, and by some to be as large as 10 or 12 degrees.
Although this difference of opinion may be great, probably it is not as great as it seems because virtually all astrologers agree that the narrower orb makes the aspect much more powerful so astrologers who use very small orbs like to focus their interpretation on influences that are really powerful and salient in the person’s life.
An applying aspect is an aspect that is becoming stronger, while a separating aspect is one that is becoming weaker.
For example, suppose that a person has the Moon 89 degrees ahead of the Sun in the birthchart. Because the Moon always travels faster than the Sun and it is 89 degrees ahead of the Sun, then we know that it is in the process of becoming more exact; in other words it is an applying aspect.
On the other hand, if the Moon was 91 degrees of the Sun, the square aspect would be separating. Some astrologers feel that an applying aspect is more significant than a separating aspect because the applying aspect is more powerful and a more pressing challenge for the person whereas the waning aspect is not as critical, more of a waning issue in a person’s life.
Most astrologers, however, do not put a great deal of emphasis (or any emphasis at all) on whether an aspect is applying or separating.
A waxing aspect occurs when an aspect formed as the faster planet moves towards being opposition from the slower planet, and a waning aspect occurs when the faster planet is returning back to conjunction to the slower planet.
Examples: If the Sun is at 10 degrees of Gemini and the Moon is at 9 degrees of Leo, this is an applying, waxing aspect with a 1 degree orb because the faster planet (the Moon) is heading towards the exact sextile aspect (applying), and it is moving from conjunction towards opposition (waxing). If the Moon is at 11 degrees of Leo, it is separating and waxing also with a 1 degree orb. if the Moon is at 9 degrees of Aries, it is applying and waning with a 1 degree orb, and if the Moon is at 11 degrees of Aries, then it is separating and waning also with a 1 degree orb.
Learn about the Aspects
0 degrees. If two planets are very close to each other, they are conjunct. Most astrologers believe that conjunctions are dynamic, but not as difficult and challenging as squares and oppositions.
180 degrees. If two planets are close to being opposite to each other in the sky, they are forming an opposition aspect. Most astrologers agree that oppositions are challenging, and often emphasize challenges with other people.
90 degrees. If two planets are close to being 90 degrees apart, they are squared to each other. Almost all astrologers agree that squares are motivating and challenging, and can be difficult. Some astrologers emphasize the negative potential of a square more than others.
120 degrees. If 2 planets are close being 120 degrees apart, they are trined to each other. Most astrologers agree that trines are soft and easy, pleasant and harmonious, but sometimes lazy.
60 degrees. If 2 planets are close to be ing 60 degrees apart, they are sextiled to each other. Sextiles are similar to trine aspects.
45 degrees. If 2 planets are close to being 45 degrees apart, they are in semisquare aspect. Similar to a square aspect. Some astrologers feel that the semisquare creates very internal challenges or conflicts.
135 degrees. If 2 planets are close to being 135 degrees apart, they are in sesquiquadrate aspect. Generally regarded as being similar to a square, but some astrologers feel that it is easier to release and express than a square aspect.
30 degrees. If 2 planets are close to being 30 degrees apart they form a sextile aspect. Generally regarded as being a slightly harmonious or favorable aspect.
150 degrees. If 2 planets are close to being 150 degrees apart, they form a quincunx aspect. Most astrologers view the quincunx aspect as being awkward, difficult, and requiring adjustments from a person.
Other Minor Aspects
Some astrologers use dozens of other aspects. Of these additional aspects, one of the most popular is the quintile aspect, which is an angle of 72 degrees. Note that 72 degrees is 1/5 of a circle. There is also a bi-quintile aspect of 144 degrees. Many different meanings have been given to the quintile aspect. There is little agreement regarding the meanings of most minor aspects. In the example chart wheel, the Sun is at 10 degrees 27 minutes of Gemini, and Uranus is at 29 degrees 0 minutes of Pisces, an angle of 71 degrees 27 minutes, which is a quintile aspect (72 degrees) with a 33 minute orb. This person is an independent (Uranus) individual (Sun) who enjoys having the freedom to engage in cultural pursuits, and avoids heavy responsibilities.
Other popular aspects are the novile (40 degrees, which is 1/9 of a circle), bi-novile (80 degrees), quadranovile (160 degrees), septile (51 3/7 degrees, which is 1/7 of a circle), bi-septile (102 6/7 degrees), tri-septile (154 2/7 degrees), decile (36 degrees, which is 1/10 of a circle) and tri-decile (108 degrees) aspects.
If this seems like a lot of aspects to interpret, then you may feel overwhelmed by the approach of astrologers who use harmonic astrology; in harmonic astrology many hundreds of other aspects are used! For an explanation of these aspects used in harmonic astrology, see the section of AstroEncyclopedia that explains harmonic astrology.
The Sun is the center of the solar system. All life revolves around it within this sphere. In the same way, the ego is the center of personal identity and gives integration and continuity to individual experience. In this sense, it might be said that the Sun shows character. This is the fixed pillar at the center of the person around which all else circulates or revolves.
The sign placement of the Sun shows the center of the individual’s basic character. The sign of the Sun is the mostprimary indicator of the forms of experience you are attracted to. Further, this most important placement shows how and why you are attracted to these experiences.
The house placement of the Sun sign shows the primary area of expression for the individual in life. There is a psychological, emotional, and physical significance to the house placement of the Sun. Aspects to the Sun show ways that the core of the personality are linked to other component elements in theindividual’s life. Aspects to the Sun have a deep and overriding significance in the life of the individual and are generally more important, more prominent than other aspects in the chart.
The Moon inscribes a circle around the earth. It moves more swiftly than other astronomical bodies and thus represents day to day and moment to moment movements, adjustments and preoccupations. The Moon is the symbol of the personal life which is molded and shaped by our environment, by events, and by social and familial expectations. Further, the Moon shows our responses to life which are based on our past habits, experiences, our heritage and our individual and collectivecravings.
The sign placement of the Moon shows how you project yourself to the general public, how the instinctive and imaginative component of your mind operates, how you express your feelings and your most general experiences of your family and mother.
The house placement of the Moon shows how and where you make day to day adjustments. Further, it shows the things you are most interested in dealing with in order to gain emotional equilibrium.
The aspects of the Moon show the general characteristics of the personality that are emphasized. Planets in aspect to the Moon are symbolic of qualities in the personality that are used instinctively, habitually and with a high degree of versatility
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. From the viewpoint of the earth it seems to dart back and forth across the face of the Sun, having three retrograde cycles a year. Mercury is the planet of your mental life. It shows how you receive, process and disseminate information. The sign placement of Mercury shows your basic attitude and mental habits. The aspects of Mercury show your scope of vision and your methods for accomplishing tasks.
The planet Venus shows the way you express your love nature and what you aspire for in life as good or beautiful. Venus has much to do with how you form your values. The sign placement of Venus shows the type of love energy you have. The house placement of Venus shows the natural area of expression of the love energy.
The aspects of Venus indicate how and under what circumstances you express the gentle and loving side of your nature.
Mars is the planet of desires. It shows how you aim at your goals and how you power yourself toward your goals. Mars represents your most fundamental wants. The sign placement of Mars shows the fundamental nature of your assertions. The house placement of Mars shows the area of your life you are most likely to focus on. The aspects to Mars show how and to what extent your desires and assertions are involved with other aspects of
Jupiter is the king of the planets. He is in charge of the order of creation. Jupiter shows your values, where you feel confident and in control, and where you feel you have something to teach others. The sign placement of Jupiter shows your values in life.
The house placement of Jupiter shows the area of life you feel luckiest in and the area you receive the most help from other people and from the cosmos. The aspect patterns to Jupiter show the direct network of good and administrative power in your life.
The planet Saturn shows where you feel restricted. You feel obligations and fears through Saturn. Because of your feeling connected with Saturn you are either responsible or neglectful. The sign placement of Saturn shows the basic type of energy connected with your obligations. The house placement of Saturn shows an area of life that you feel restricted in and work hard to obtain the things that come to you. The aspects of Saturn show the most direct involvement of other areas of your life with your feelings of responsibility.
The planet Uranus is beyond the orbit of Saturn and can’t be seen without the aid of a telescope. It represents the sky in us, that which transcends the limits of finite life. Uranus raises the vibration of everything it contacts. The sign placement of Uranus shows your broadest striving for freedom. The house placement of Uranus indicates your area of direct unique expression. The aspects to Uranus indicate the way you express your need for higher consciousness.
The planet Neptune has an almost perfectly circular orbit. It represents the part of our nature that strives for perfection, that looks to some higher ideal. The planet Neptune rules the ocean and the part of us that is beyond the limits of the shores of personal existence. The culture moves with the cycles of
Neptune and it is the primary indicator of your connection to the culture that you live in. The sign of Neptune shows an ideal that you desire to manifest. The house placement of Neptune shows thearea of your life that you want to express this ideal in. The
aspect patterns of Neptune indicate the most direct connections yet most subtle networking of your personality into the world at large.
The planet Pluto represents the dark underground part of you. It shows your ability to transform the most fundamental properties in your own inner nature. The sign of Pluto is the way the obsessive, compulsive and committed part of your nature expresses itself. The house placement of Pluto shows the area of life where you make your most fundamental and most potent changes.
The aspects to Pluto show the deepest most unconscious links in your personality structure.