The Horoscope: Its Signs, Houses, and Planets
The Horoscope: An Online Guide
You’ve probably seen pictures of a horoscope chart; a circular diagram separated into 12 “pie slices”. This article will help you understand what a horoscope is, how a chart is constructed, and how you can interpret it. Of course, nowadays, there are many programs for computers (both for your desktop and on the Internet) that will quickly calculate your horoscope. However, it is important to understand the various components of the chart, as well as the astronomy that goes into creating your birth chart.
The Angles of the Horoscope
At its simplest, a horoscope is a visual depiction of the relationship between the horizon in a location, and the ecliptic (the apparent course of the Sun in the sky). This relationship changes based on one’s longitude and latitude, as well as the time of year. The positions of the planets are then plotted and this basic framework. This is why two people born at the same moment in different locations will have different horoscopes; their geographic location determines where their planets are placed.
The Signs of the Zodiac
The zodiac is a band in the heavens that stretches 8° north and 8° south of the Sun’s path (the ecliptic). The Sun, Moon, and the other five classical planets are always found within this 16° belt. The zodiacal belt is divided into 12 equal segments of 30° apiece, each representing a sign. When a planet passes through a particular sign, that is how we can say that Venus is currently in Libra, for example.
So when we say that you are a Sagittarius, this means that the Sun was in the 30° stretch of the zodiac associated with Sagittarius at the time of your birth.
The Houses in a Horoscope
Astronomically, the houses divide the ecliptic into 12 parts, the size and shape of which will vary depending on your geographical location. There are many house calculation systems, Placidus being the most popular in the West at the moment. We count the houses counterclockwise from the left, which means that houses 1-6 are under the horizon (in the bottom half of the chart), and houses 7-12 are above the horizon (in the top half).
The Planets in the Horoscope
Now we have our horoscope set up with its houses, so we must fill it with planets and other points. This is when we go to our handy ephemeris (a listing of the planets’ places for each day). We see, for example, that on May 16, 2007, Venus was at 9° Cancer. We find 9° Cancer in our horoscope, and plot Venus in. And so on with all of the planets.
When planets are certain distances from one another in the horoscope, this is considered meaningful. This is called planets being in aspect. You can learn more about the astrological aspects, their measurement, and meanings here.
Next Steps with the Horoscope
The finished horoscope must now be interpreted. To interpret the horoscope, you will need four pieces of information, all of which are, or will be available on this website:
- The meaning of the planets
- The meaning of the houses
- The meaning of the signs, and
- The meaning of the aspects.
As you get more comfortable finding your way around the horoscope, you will want to include more “exotic” elements such as the Arabian Parts and the fixed stars.