July 5, 2009 by Nina Gryphon
This is a regular question and answer column for those new to astrology, or those who have gotten their feet wet a little in their study of astrology, but are looking for more answers. These are questions I have received and those with which I have seen newcomers struggle. Do you have general questions about astrology? Contact me.
Q: What are the real dates for astrology signs? They are different in all the books and newspaper columns. What sign am I?
A: There are a number of people out there who live in the strange twilight zone of not knowing their Sun sign for sure. The good news is that you don’t have to be one of these poor lost creatures for a moment longer.
The dates show when the Sun moves into a new sign; it takes the Sun one year to travel through the twelve signs of the zodiac. The reason the dates are different in various sources (usually varying by a day or so) is that the Sun isn’t on the exact same schedule every year. For example, in 2009, the Sun entered the sign of Aries on March 20, but in 2003, the Sun entered Aries on March 21. The only way to be sure of your Sun sign if you are born near one of these dates is to consult an ephemeris for the date of your birth, examine your astrological chart, or get an astrological reading.
Some astrologers claim that people born within a day of a Sun’s change of signs are “born on a cusp” and therefore have qualities of both the preceding and the next sign. This is most definitely incorrect; the Sun is either in a sign or it’s not. Believing that the Sun is in two signs at once is like saying that one can be a little bit pregnant, or only slightly dead. One sees this notion most often in Sun sign books or columns, but few professional astrologers incorporate it into their practice in any significant way.
The other reason that the concept of being born on a cusp is incorrect is that astrologers who espouse the idea do not extend the same reasoning to the other planets which are part of one’s horoscope. For example, many people are born on the same day that the Moon changes signs, because the Moon changes signs every 2 1/2 days, but no one claims that such people share the qualities of both the signs that the Moon occupied that day.
Finally, there are no clear guidelines as to when being born on the cusp starts and ends. Is it within an hour or day of the Sun’s changing signs? No one has a definitive answer, and there are no written sources that resolve the question once and for all. Best advice: forget all about cusps, and instead get your horoscope done or learn astrology so you can discover the right Sun sign.