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What Is a Birth Chart?

The astrological chart (or natal chart) is a map based on your time, date and place of birth. It shows where all the planets were positioned when you were born. You can use it to get a strong sense of how you’ll be in relationships, what career path is good for you, where things come easily and where you’ll be challenged to grow. We think of it as your soul’s roadmap to the adventure of life!  

The chart is a snapshot of where the planets were in relation to the Earth at your time of birth. Said another way, in the center of the zodiac wheel is you, and all around you are the planets, and moon in their orbit (plus the Sun) from your vantage point on Earth. 

Hey, when it comes to your chart, you get to be the center of the universe! Doesn’t it feel good to be that every now and then?

We like to think of the chart as your “factory settings.” Just like you can take a computer out of the box and customize it with your favorite apps, screensavers and backgrounds, so too can you personalize your own life with a spectrum of choices. While your “operating system” may always be Gemini or Capricorn, no two people (or well-used mobile devices) are ever really the same.

A few things to know about your chart

  • The astrological birth (or natal) chart maps out the Sun, moon and major planets from Mercury to Pluto at their exact positions when you were born.
  • You can include “extras” like the lunar nodes, asteroids, Arabic parts and other non-planetary points when you become more advanced and want to get fancy.
  • The ascendant, or rising sign, is the “kickoff point” of your chart. It’s based on your exact moment of birth and in Tropical/Western astrology, determines which of the 12 zodiac houses every planet falls into on your chart

There are four major “angles” on a chart:

  • The Ascendant: rules your first house of self, reveals the face you show to the world
  • The IC: rules your fourth house of home, family and foundations; shows how you approach all forms of security (especially emotional and financial)
  • The Descendant: rules your seventh house of relationships and can describe the type of partnerships (and partners) you’ll be drawn to
  • The Midheaven: rules your tenth house of career and public image, shows how you want to be seen by the world, your approach to goals, status and long-term commitments


Do a free birth chart

Cast your chart (or someone else’s) on The AstroTwins’ site.

VIDEO LESSON: Learn to read your chart in 30 minutes


What if I don’t know my time of birth? 

In order to correctly cast your rising sign (ascendant), you need to know your time and place of birth. Here are resources for getting your birth certificate in case yours doesn’t list it. Some people will never know their exact birth time and have to make their best guess. 

You can still glean plenty of information about yourself without knowing your rising sign, but you won’t be able to know the houses that the planets fall into. Faster-moving bodies like the moon sign may also be inaccurate.