Astrology 101: What Is Your Rising Sign + How Do You Identify It

Photo: Meghan Hicks / mbg Creative

Every other week, we’ll be sharing insights from The Astrotwins on the zodiac questions you want answered most. 

What is your rising sign?

Your rising sign, also called your ascendant, is the sign that was rising over the eastern horizon when you were born. It can affect your appearance, your attitude, and the way you come across to others. For example, a conservative Capricorn with a Leo rising can appear to have some Leo-like features—s/he may have wild hair, an outgoing personality, and a more expressive style than the average Capricorn. If people always peg you for a sign other than your own, don’t be surprised to discover that it’s actually your rising sign.

How do you find your rising sign?

The rising sign changes every two hours, so you need to know your time of birth to get an accurate answer. Some birth certificates unfortunately don’t list the rising sign, so you may need to rely on a parent’s memory or have a professional astrologer "reconstruct" your chart and make their best guess. Don’t have your birth certificate? If you were born in the United States, you can write to the Office of Vital Records in your birth state for a copy.

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How do you find your ascendant (or rising sign) on the chart?

The ascendant is the cusp, or beginning borderline, of the zodiac’s first house. It’s always denoted by a dark line at what would be 9:00 on a clock. From the first house’s cusp, we travel around the zodiac wheel in a counterclockwise direction.

Photo: The Astrotwins

Imagine that you are standing right in the center of this horoscope wheel. The ascendant indicates the eastern horizon line that the Sun is "rising" over at that moment. The ascendant is also the starting point of the 12 houses, with the first house beginning at the ascendant, and all the houses follow counterclockwise around the chart, until the 12th house ends at the same point that the 1st house begins—at the ascendant.

How often does the rising sign change?

The ascendant changes zodiac signs about every two hours. Since the sun rises and sets at different times depending on the season, a person born at 10 a.m. in April would have a much different ascendant than someone born at 10 a.m. in November.

Fun fact: If you were born at sunrise (or within two hours of it), your ascendant will be the same sign as your Sun sign (e.g., Taurus with a Taurus rising—or a "double Taurus"). Someone born at the exact same time as you, but in another time zone, may have an entirely different birth chart because the planets will be in different houses. It’s like the difference between Bradley Cooper appearing in The Hangover II (which could be a raucous Aries rising) versus a serious drama such as Silver Linings Playbook (a sensitive Cancer rising, perhaps).

You can do a free chart here to discover your rising sign—and what it means. If you want more insight into how your zodiac sign can affect your life, read your love horoscope and then check out what to expect from the week with the Astrotwins' weekly predictions.

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