The Basics of Astrology

The Ascendant (Rising Sign) in Astrology

“The ascendant rules the outer personality - the way a person actually presents to the world” ~Rosemary Breen, Horoscope Compatibility for All the Zodiac Signs

the sun and the ascedent

The Ascendent, also called the Rising Sign, is the zodiacal sign and degree that was ascending/rising over the eastern horizon at the specific time and location of birth. It is also defined as the point of intersection of the ecliptic (the Sun's path) with the eastern horizon of the location. There are exactly 30 degrees per astrological sign, which all together equals 360° which is the (the span of the ecliptic). All twelve signs rise and fall during the course of one 24-hour day.

In order to know what your correct rising sign is it's important to know your exact time of birth, and the city you were born in. This is because rising signs vary by location and change approximately every 2 hours. The exact minute of your birth can sometimes make a difference because you may be born near the cusp (transition from one sign to the next). A set of identical twins born as little as five minutes apart would share a sun sign of course, but each could have a different ascendant which can effect their horoscopes and even their personalities differently.

Already know your rising sign? Read a description of your ascendant sign

You can use this quick and easy Ascendant Calculator to determine your rising sign. If your not sure of the exact birth time but feel you know the general time frame (within a few minutes) you will most likely get your correct ascendant. If the description doesn't seem to fit you try altering the minutes until you get to the next/previous sign to see if that ascendant fits you better. If you don't know your exact birth time but know the general time frame (within 2 hours) then you can use the shortcut method found below.

ascendant in a birth chart The Ascendant is the most important part of a chart and marks the cusp of the first house. In a Natal/Birth Chart the Ascendant is placed along the first house and each astrological sign (continuing in the order of the zodiac) is placed along each of the succeeding houses (in a counter-clockwise) manner. For example, if your ascendant is Gemini, then it would be placed alongside the first house of your natal chart, Cancer representing the second house, Leo representing the third house, and so on.

Your Outer Self

sun on the horizon The Ascendant/Rising Sign represents your own self image, the way you express yourself to others, and how others perceive you. The Ascendant is considered to be of great significance in astrology, along with the sun and the moon sign, because it serves as the filter through which everything in a horoscope is expressed.

The characteristics of your rising sign can show you the behavior that is learned. People with the same ascendant can share similar physical characteristics and even mannerisms.

While the Sun Sign establishes your character, or who you really are, your Rising sign determines your personality and is often considered the "mask" that one wears in public and when meeting other people. It's the way you might "want" to appear to others. It is the image you convey to others, your personal style, and it can also describe the "first impression" that other people get from you. Your rising sign is less about who you are and more about how you act.

Your personality is a unique combination of influences from not only the Ascendant, but the Sun, Moon, and all of the Planets in the solar system. But your ascendant plays one of the most important roles in astrology, with the sun and moon also being a very influential force in shaping your personality traits and characteristics. All Planets can assume added importance in the birth chart due to their relationship to the ascendant. The positions and movements of each of these celestial bodies at the time and place of your birth can give you a more detailed and accurate picture of who you are, and what lies ahead.

You can consider the Sun Sign as your soul (your inner personality and potential) and your Moon Sign as your heart (your emotional core). Your rising sign is your physical self or the face you present to the world.

Because the Earth's axis is tilted relative to the ecliptic, the twelve zodiac signs do not take the same amount of time to cross the eastern horizon. At the equator, there is very little difference but as one moves from the equator, larger and larger differences emerge. The rising sign can not be determined accurately without knowing the precise location where you were born, along with the birth time. The ascendant sign represents the "first house" in a natal/birth chart.

If no birth certificate is available, or if you are unable to obtain or make an approximation of your correct time or location you were born, there is still hope! A Rectification Chart may help.

Calculating Your Rising Sign/Ascendant

You can use this quick and easy Ascendant Calculator. Once you have your rising sign you can read the description below. It's also important to note that the characteristics of each astrological rising sign shares it's characteristics with that of the Sun Sign. So someone who is an Aries Sun Sign would have the associated aries characteristics, but if there Ascendant is Cancer, then they would also share the characteristics of Cancer. Most people can identify with their rising sign more than their sign sign.

This is a shortcut method for calculating the rising sign if you do not know your "exact" time of birth, but feel that you know the "general" time frame of your birth (within a few hours). To use the wheel first determine what you "believe" to be the exact time of your birth. If you "know" you were born in the morning sometime around 1PM than go ahead and use 1PM as your birth time. Now locate the segment in the wheel that contains your birth time. For example; if you were born around 5 P.M in the evening and your sun sign is Leo, then "leo" would be placed in segment number 7 of the wheel. Another example; if you were born at 12:05 P.M you would write (or mentally write in this case) your sun sign in segment number "3".

Now going counterclockwise (in reverse) around the wheel write down each of the zodiac signs in the order that follow your sun sign. So In the previous example, the Taurus born at 12:05 P.M would place "taurus" in segment number 3, and in segment 4 they would place Gemini, in segment 5 you they place Cancer, 6 would be Leo, and so on until they arrive at segment number "1", which would be the sign of the ascendant. In the example, the Taurus born at 12:05 P.M would have "Pisces" in segment one, therefore they would be a Pisces Rising. (Remember the order of the zodiac is: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces)

Keep in mind that this "shortcut" method may not be as accurate (even if you know your exact time of birth) but it will be pretty close. If you want to be sure, read the description of the rising sign that is before and after the one you arrived at and find the one that fits you better. You can also use the ascendant calculator below to verify.

Risign Sign Chart Calculator

Does your Ascendant/Rising Sign fall on a cusp?

The ascendant signs change approximately every 2 hours depending on location.The days surrounding the transition of one sign into the next is considered the Cusp. Keep in mind that the approximate beginning and end dates of a transition from one sign into the next may vary depending on the source. If you are very close to or on the cusp you might want to check an ephemeris for the date in question. But even if you are on a cusp, or are not sure, you can consider which sign feels more like "you" and most likely it will be correct.


Aries Rising Those born with Aries rising are adventurous and pioneering. Aries is the sign of beginnings. They like to lead and be the decision makers. They are courageous in their undertakings. YThey are not shy about expressing their likes and dislikes. They have a direct approach and like to handle problems head-on, butting down the obstacles that stand in their way. They are doers rather than thinkers. They are enthusiastic and have a lot of energy, a powerful inner drive, and a strong need for accomplishment. They love challenges. They pave the way and set the stage for others, but sometimes get bored if something isn't exciting or challenging enough, sometimes leading to unfinished tasks.

They may have a reputation for being troublemakers. They are risk-takers and may enjoy extreme sports, anything that thrills them. Sometimes because of their brash and impulsive nature they may be accident prone. They can sometimes be quick-tempered, domineering, and self-centered. Aries Ascendants have flashing smiles and piercing eyes, a gold or reddish tint to the skin or hair, piercing eyes, ruddy complexion, sometimes a birth mark around the head or face, a muscular body, and agile movement.

Aries is ruled by the planet Mars. The influence of Mars bestows great will power, stamina, and a need for achievement and recognition.It also may bring about an aggressive sex drive. It may also bring about conflict, strain and tension in certain areas of life, selfishness, a violent temper, and accidents with fire and sharp instruments.


Taurus Rising If you were born with Taurus rising, you are calm, steady and usually stable in your life. Taurus is the sign of wealth and material possessions. You like beauty, luxury, and harmony in your surroundings. You are sensual and enjoy the finer things in life. You have charm and good social manners. You also seem to possess endless patience. You are usually artistic whether it be in art, writing or music. You are determined, persistent, and strong-willed. You can sometimes be stubborn and obstinate, and set in your ways. You may be comfortable with routine because you like stability and the comfort of your surroundings. Wealth and possessions are important to you.You tend to accumulate wealth as the years roll by. You prize your material possessions.

You may also have a bit of a jealous streak and be possessive in relationships. Taurus Ascendant likes nice clothing and take pride in their appearance. They usually have a very nice complexion and are usually good-looking. You may have large round eyes, a short, thick neck, and a sturdy (sometimes stocky) body. Weight can be a problem in the later years.

Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus. The influence of Venus bestows grace and charm, a love of pleasure and art, and social awareness. Overindulges in pleasures (sex, food, etc,), conceit, and superficiality are indicated by venus here as well.


Gemini Rising If you were born with Gemini rising, you are someone in constant motion. You may be restless and need change and variety in your life. You have a dualistic type of personality, a wide range of interests, yet you feel there is always something more exciting you could be exploring or experiencing at any given moment. You can sometimes be a jack of all trades, but sometimes a master of none. Gemini is the sign of communication. You have a wonderful way with words, and may have a strong interest or talent involving writing and speaking. You can be clever and witty with your words.

You may have success in the entertainment field. You are an individual who is quick to react, and sometimes you get angered easily. Sometimes there is a tendency to worry too much and to be a little impatient. You like to keep busy and enjoy games, books, or anything that occupies the mind. You tend to have more of a mental outlook on life. You may travel a lot or move around a lot, enjoying the diversity of situations and people, and have an active social life. Gemini Ascendants tend to have small sharp features. They have twinkling eyes that are often filled with humor. They have graceful hands and arms, and also quick and agile movements

Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury. The influence of Mercury bestows a high intellect and ability to communicate in writing and speaking, acute perceptions, a flair for writing and speaking, but it also encourages sarcasm, cynicism, and even an arrogant, snobby, or disorganized nature.


If you were born with Cancer rising, you are sensitive and emotional. you may be reserved on the outside, but warm and affectionate underneath this shell of yours. You have a loving and giving nature, and heightened sensitivity and insight into the motivation of others. You are adaptable to most people most of the time, but it may take awhile for you to form a close bond with someone. You may be known for your moodiness. You can be crabby at times, even snappish and touchy. You can take offense or be hurt very easily, sometimes taking things the wrong way. You tend to soak up other people's emotions, and sometimes know what they are thinking because you are so tuned in. You may be gifted in creative arts such as painting or poetry. You are also gifted with money, sometimes in prude and caution in business. There is an excellent chance that you will accumulate material success in later years of life if you make the effort.

Sometimes you have a tendency to complain about not being appreciated, and may have a need to gain reassurance. You may have obstacles in your path at a young age but this makes you stronger. Cancer Ascendants usually have an expressive, round, moon-like shape to the face, pale luminous eyes, and slender limbs. Sometimes the body can be thicker near the middle, and there is also a strong tendency to gain weight in the later years.

Cancer is ruled by the Moon. The influence of Moon bestows kindness, imagination, and sympathy. Also indicated by the moon is deep emotion, a nurturing ability, and a good memory. But the Moon also encourages laziness at times,restlessness, passiveness or inconsistency in life. Sometimes you are a little messy.


Leo Rising If you were born with Leo rising, you have a big heart and high ideals. You have a personal magnetism, a regal air, and a noble nature. You can be extremely kind and generous. You may have a tendency towards extravagance or lavishness. You may love playing the leader role, organizing events, and showy displays of affection. You have self confidence and a strong sense of pride. You have a wonderful sense of humor, a fun nature and an expansive outlook on life. You generally have likable qualities and people are often drawn to them because of this. You also have the ability to attract influential people, and power and success in later years through others. You may benefit from an inheritance or some other prominent and unexpected success later in life .

Whenever your feelings are hurt, or your pride is wounded, or when you feel you are not getting the attention you deserve, you can become haughty, temperamental and arrogant. Sometimes the claws come out when you don't get your way. You can be quite dramatic at times, sometimes even bossy or conceited, but your warm-hearted, and you usually mean well. Leo Ascendants tend to have a large beautiful head and dazzling smile. Often the hair is thick and shiny, or very noticeable in some other way. There is usually something noticeable about the demeanor of a Leo Rising.

Leo is ruled by the Sun. The influence of the Sun bestows generosity, power, enthusiasm, warmth, creative self expression, passion and courage. But the Sun also encourages egocentricity, conceit, and a pompous nature. It can also bring about a condescending attitude.


Virgo Rising If you were born with Virgo rising, you are analytical about life, sometimes critical, but you have deep tender emotions and you genuinely care about others. You have the ability to think logically, reason, sifts through information in order to find the truth. You tend to have a fixed opinion about a lot of things, but will change your mind after reviewing every little detail. Work and stability is important to you. Being in control makes you feel secure, whether it's the details of your career or in relationships with others. You may have an unusual charm and elegance. You may be hard to get to know on an intimate level. It may be hard for you to show your feelings, although you have a lot going on in your head and your heart.

Sometimes you can get too caught up in details and fail to see the bigger picture. Success for you is often connected with travel in some way. You might suffer from poor health as a child but your health does tend to improve with age. There is sometimes a tendency to be cold and insensitive when the negative side of your personality is expressed. Virgo Ascendants tend to have gentle faces, sometimes oval shaped, and eyes that seem to scan the room. The body of a Virgo rising may seem frail, but is usually very strong.

Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury. The influence of the Mercury a logical mind and acute powers of observation, especially when in comes to details. There may be a flair for science or writing. But Mercury also encourages a nervous temperament, sarcasm, a tendency to criticize or complain about details and to worry.


Libra Rising If you were born with Libra rising, you have charm and grace, and are social minded. This is a very pleasing and harmonious ascendant. Social gatherings filled will laughter and fun is important to you. You have a pleasant personality in general. Not much gets you down. You are are very hopeful and look forward to the future. But you are also easily drawn into depression, usually if you are surrounded by pessimistic people or a disharmonious environment. But overall you are optimistic and hard to let down because Libra is the sign of balance. You are a fair person and dislike injustices of any kind. You are easily upset by acts of cruelty or violence. You feel that life should always be serene and content.

You may have a strong interest in art or any other creative pursuit, but you also dislike hard work and sometimes take the easy way out of a situation. Success often comes to you through a partnership or association. You probably like to travel, meet new people, and start new projects. Virgo Ascendants tend to have gentle faces, sometimes oval shaped, and eyes that seem to scan the room. The body of a Virgo rising may seem frail, but is usually very strong.

Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury. The influence of the Mercury bestows a logical mind and acute powers of observation, especially when in comes to details. There may be a flair for science or writing. But Mercury also encourages a nervous temperamant, sarcasm, a tendency to criticize or complain about details and to worry.


Scorpio Rising If you were born with Scorpio rising, you are intense and dynamic. You have strong willpower and determination. You sometimes prefer being alone, but when around others you have the ability to lead and can be very influential. You are clever and creative, resourceful, full of ideas, and curious. You love to take things apart to see how they work, and to put them together so that they work in a better way. You are like this when it comes to art as well. You can be quite the visionary. You may be happiest when controlling things from behind the scenes, because you tend to be secretive and reserved. Your intensity can be hypnotizing, and you are quite intuitive, charming, and often a witty conversationalist. Overall you can be considered the quiet observer.

You may have a reputation for having a sharp temper. When crossed, you can be downright cruel. Later, you are usually remorseful, though usually reluctant to admit it. Scorpio is the sign of hidden passions. Strange patterns occur with these rising signs, such as the loss of a partner through death. You tend to have more financial setbacks and disappointments then others, but are always victorious in the end. Scorpio ascendants tend to have sharp features and large mesmerizing eyes. The nose may also be prominent, also dark thick eyebrows. The body is agile and moves decisively.

Scorpio is ruled by the planet Pluto. The influence of the Pluto bestows powerful feelings and emotions. There is a strong sense of purpose, persistence and determination when it comes to following their passions. Imagination can help them to achieve their dreams. But Pluto also encourages suspicion and jealousy, secrecy and cruelty.


Sagittarius Rising If you were born with Sagittarius rising, you are independent and value your freedom. You can not stand routine or a dull existence. You are filled with optimism about the future, and have a restless spirit, and ready to accept challenges. You love life, but can be impatient at times. You are sensitive to other people's feelings because you understand human nature. You are a humanitarian and an idealist at heart, honest and generous, but easily wounded when it comes to the selfishness and thoughtless behavior of others. You might just expect too much. You have a knack for making friends because you are open-minded. You can be quite blunt with people because you value honesty.

You may have an interest in research, reading, news and current events. Your imaginative and enjoy spirited discussions. You most likely enjoy travel, new places, new people, and new ideas. You prefer the simple life, without limitations. You like money, but you value much more in life. You sometimes don't consider the consequences of your actions. Impulsive, and sometimes reckless,you might fail to see the "bigger" picture of what lies ahead. You might even be fickle in love. Sagittarius ascendant has a pleasant cheerful face. They may have a broad fore-head, bright humorous eyes, and a friendly smile. The body is strong and active, with sweeping gestures.

Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter. The influence of the Jupiter bestows good fortune and luck. These signs are very fortunate. Happiness, generosity, vision, and sincerity. But Jupiter also encourages restlessness, indulgence, impatience, conceit, wastefulness, and even gambling is figured here.


Capricorn Rising If you were born with Capricorn rising, you are serious minded and cautious. You can sometimes be quiet and reserved around strangers, but with close friends you are lively and expressive. You possess great willpower and determination. You strive for success and usually achieve your goals. Sometimes after achieving a desired goal you can still feel a bit unsatisfied. You have an active mind and a fine ability to concentrate on a task. Sometimes you can be too calculating and cautious, finding too many flaws in a project, person or situation. You seem to constantly weigh the pros and cons of a situation. You spot the weaknesses of others.

There may be a tendency to fuss over small details and to worry and fret too much. You like to be prepared. Sometimes it's not easy for you to show your true feelings, but you do love deeply, and are loyal and protective, even going out of your way to do good deeds for others. Sometimes you can be jealous and resentful and hold a grudge for too long. You tend to achieve success through their own hard work and diligent efforts. Capricorn Ascendants tend to have smaller heads and deep penetrating eyes. They usually have beautiful smiles and lovely teeth. This sign also has strong feet.

Capricorn is ruled by the planet Saturn. The influence of the Saturn bestows discipline and determination, patience, ambition and endurance, also thriftiness. But Saturn also encourages a pessimistic attitude, aloofness, hardship, stubbornness, and aloofness.


Aquarius Rising If you were born with Aquarius rising, you are quick-witted and and truthful. You are an excellent conversationalist who makes friends easily. You are intelligent, modern, inventive, and progressive. You want the world to be a better place and are hopeful about the future. You are fair and tolerant, but sometimes inflexible and impatient with those who don't share your higher visions. You may be a bit set in your ways and might also have very unconventional ideas, far-out opinions, and eccentric ideals. Sometimes you can be a bit intolerant of other people's shortcomings and can be filled with humor and sarcasm in your approach to others. You have great powers of observation.

You do enjoy the social scene but are also content to be alone. You love travel, yet enjoy staying at home by yourself. They enjoy the best of both worlds! You can be outgoing and friendly one moment, moody and reserved the next. You have a very scientific and sometimes artistic frame of mind. You may even juggle several careers. Your life is marked by unexpected triumphs and tragedies, usually related to money. You have an adventurous spirit but do become bored easily. Aquarian Ascendants have fine facial bone structures, and the forehead can be wide. They have dreamy and wandering eyes, sometimes an unusual mixture of colors. Some are tall and rangy looking.

Aquarius is ruled by the planet Uranus. The influence of the Uranus bestows independence, originality, friendliness, versatility, and a love of freedom.. But Uranus also encourages rebellion and unpredictability, eccentricity, and tactlessness.


Pisces Rising If you were born with Pisces rising, you have an artistic flair and a romantic outlook on life. You like to fantasize a lot. You tend to be very sociable and enjoy companionship in general. You love the good life, food, clothing, travel, etc. You can sometimes be vivacious and talk a little too much. You may just be well suited for the theater. You can be very sentimental and have tender feelings, and it might not take much to make you cry. Your moods can change frequently and you are often distressed because worry and imagined fears take over your life. Sometimes you feel that you are destined for unhappiness and pain, and you may have an inner sorrow and get depressed a lot.

At home there is a tendency to be disorganized, sometimes careless with items or misplacing things. In work you can be very knowledgeable and creative, and also very disciplined when you put your mind to it. These signs tend to change residences quite often. Sometimes you might have a childhood enemy that ends up becoming a valuable friend, and sometimes there is a troublesome first marriage due to familial issues. Pisces Risings are also fond of children, especially when it involves artistic projects. Piscean Ascendants tend to have large luminous eyes and a sensuous mouth. They are likely to have wavy hair and well shaped feet.

Pisces is ruled by the planet Neptune. The influence of Neptune bestows compassion, sensitivity, intuition, imagination and creativity, and often an interest in spirituality or occult. But Neptune also encourages confusion, indecisiveness, worry, vagueness, self-deception, and carelessness.

Astrological Links and Resources

Natal Chart Calculators & Free Charts
A list of free astrological calculators for calculating your ascendant and moon signs and to get a free natal chart, planetary descirptions, chinese astrology, free mini-readings, horoscopes and more.

A Look at the Ascendant/Descendant Axis in your Horoscope
More About Rising Sign Including Descriptions.

Next Section: The Zodiac in Astrology

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