The differences between sun sign, ascendant and moon sign

When we start looking at astrology we quickly learn that that it spirals down into ever deeper layers than just our sun sign. Key signs that influence us are our Sun sign (which is what most people are familiar with), our Ascendant and our Moon sign. Read on to find out the key differences between these and how they influence your characteristics.

Sun Sign

The Sun is the light of the world and we all pretty much plan our lives around it. It is the force in our corner of the universe that allows life as we know it and it is the center of our solar system.
When someone says they are ‘Libra’ or ‘Scorpio’, it is their Sun sign (or star sign -the terms are used interchangeably) they are referring to. Our Sun sign is the sign that the sun was in when we were born, and it is an easy one to find because all we need is our birth month and year. Sun sign astrology is the predictions you see in paper or magazines.

3,000 years ago (or a lot longer), people believed that the Sun, Moon and the planets revolved around earth. Observing the night sky, they assigned arbitrary names to various stars that formed shapes, e.g. Gemini the Twins. During the year, they were able to deduce that the sun passed through these constellations and gradually completed a full circle. When viewed from their point on earth, the sun was ‘in’ one of these constellations – that is, that behind the sun was a constellation. This was the Sun sign of people born at that time!

You can't see it here, but behind the Sun is a constellation. If you were born right now at this place, this would be your star sign e.g Libra.
You can’t see it here, but behind the Sun is a constellation. If you were born right now at this place, this would be your star sign e.g Libra.

When serious astrologists hear someone describing their star sign, it would not be uncommon to hear a muffled sigh as there is so much more to us then just where the Sun was when we were born. Where the rest of the planets fell more accurately describes our constitution but still, our Sun Sign is a broad brush stroke for our characteristics – which is why newspaper astrology relies heavily on the position of the sun because it’s so broad.

Think of it this way – you may be American first which would akin to describing your Star Sign. But this pays little attention to what state you were born in, what town, neighbourhood, community, friends, siblings and parents you were raised with. All these things shape who we are so although we have a broad brush stroke of being American, or Libra, or Virgo, there is an underlying need to examine where all the planets fell before we begin to understand who we are.
Just as the Sun brings light to our planet, so your Sun sign shines a light on your qualities. Your Sun sign is the deep current in your life, upon which all other factors come into play.

Ascendant Sign

Your ascendant (or rising sign) is the sign that occupies the first house of your chart – generally found at the 9 o’clock position on your chart. It is the sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth (your sun sign was your year and month – this is a step further with the time of your birth and the location). This sign changes every few hours so a reasonably accurate time and location of your birth is required.

Because some constellations are larger than others, it takes more time for some of them to rise.

Imagine this image is looking east at the horizon at the time of your birth - the constellation rising over the horizon would be your Ascendant sign.
Imagine this image is looking east at the horizon at the time of your birth – the constellation rising over the horizon would be your Ascendant sign.

Ascendant signs are the outward persona we portray. Think of it as the way we present ourselves to others, the various masks that we put on to fit in or at least get through the day. Your ascendant sign was rising at the time of your birth – revealing itself to the world. Hence, your ascendant sign is you revealing yourself to the world, presenting yourself as you want to be seen.

A person’s ascendant will work with their sun sign to give the persona of the person – that piece of the person that the outside world gets to see. You wear clothes that reflect the way you want to appear to others and this is what your ascendant represents. The body underneath is your sun sign, that first glimpse of the ‘real’ you.
That is not to say we should be dismissive of the ascendant as merely the ego or something false – it is a very real part of the way we handle our interactions with the world and how we stay sane. We all have masks and we use them to protect the deeper us. They have allowed us and our ancestors to survive by fitting in with the ‘mob’.

Moon Sign

Now we really digging down! The Moon has always been associated with the emotional, watery side of things. It is hidden during the day, only coming out when it can just be itself in the dark. It is still connected to the sun but only comes into its own when the brashy sun has turned its attention elsewhere.

Like your sun sign, your moon sign is the constellation that appeared to be behind the moon at the time and location you were born.

You will need an exact time and location of your birth to figure out your Moon sign. It reflects your emotional being, those parts of you that are hidden within. You know all those things you have bottled up inside that your really don’t share with others? That’s all your moon sign. Those closest to you may know your Moon signs better than anyone. When you erupt in an emotional outburst, you’re probably more governed by this sign than your Sun sign.
The moon has always been maternal in nature and so our moon sign reflects this – it is our sense of belonging at a deep level and our soul. Like our Sun and Ascendant signs, our Moon Sign will be either watery, fiery, airy or earthy depending on our chart. It again will be broken down into cardinal, fixed or mutable.

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