The “Big Three” in Astrology: Sun, Moon, And Rising Sign Explained

If you already read your horoscope and you’re ready to expand your astrological knowledge, then the next logical step is to learn your “big three.” In astrology, the big three are your sun, moon, and rising (or ascendant signs.) 

These signs are considered the cornerstones of your personality, and many professional astrologers focus exclusively on these signs when determining your astrological profile.

the big three in astrology

To assess your big three, you’ll need a natal chart (also called a birth chart) that gives you a map of the sky when you were born. To create an accurate natal chart, you’ll need your exact location, date, and time of birth, so pull out that birth certificate to double-check the details!

Your Sun sign is determined by your birth date – this is the sign you look for when you read your horoscope.

Your moon sign is determined by where the moon was located on the day and time you were born. The sky is divided into 12 sections called “houses” in astrology – a different zodiac sign rules each astrological house. The moon moves through the astrological houses quickly, so even people born in the same week can have different moon signs.

Your rising sign is determined by which zodiac constellation was on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth. Rising signs change every few hours, so knowing your exact delivery time is the only way to learn your true rising sign.

What is my Sun Sign?

If you’ve ever read your horoscope or had an answer when someone asks, “What’s your sign?” you already know your Sun sign. Also called your star sign, your Sun sign determines your core personality, ego, and conscious mind.  Knowing your Sun sign helps you explore the aspects of yourself that are basic and unchanging. Your sign enables you to determine what life paths might work well for you, what interests you may enjoy, and what your fundamental strengths and weaknesses are.

Sun signs cover a wide range of personalities and interests. For example, people with a Sun sign in Cancer wear their emotions on their sleeve, are deeply intuitive, and are often introverts who prefer domestic comforts. In contrast, those with a Sun sign in Aries are passionate, aggressive leaders, have strong personalities, and seek adventure and excitement. People born in the Sun sign of Gemini are very communicative (either in spoken or written form) and abound in intelligence and unstoppable mind. In contrast, people born under the Sun sign of Pisces tend to hold their tongues and believe that they can communicate with their minds and hearts.

Each zodiac sign has a different element – fire, air, earth, or water – and knowing your Sun sign’s element can help you understand some of the broader themes of your sign and what other signs you might be compatible with. Like signs tend to get along well – water with water, air with air, and so forth. Elements can also be complimentary – a water sign with an earth sign can nurture a healthy friendship the same way that the rain helps the plants grow, and an air sign can fan the flames of passion for a fire sign.

What is my Moon Sign?

Your Moon sign determines your more secretive, internal aspects. Emotions, intuitions, dreams, and inner knowing – your “shadow self” – is ruled by your Moon sign.  Moon sign traits often make you feel vulnerable, so you may only feel comfortable showing these aspects of yourself to someone who has earned your trust. Understanding your Moon sign can be critical to interpersonal relationships – it can help you explore what you need to feel secure, how you naturally nurture others in your life, and what instinctual reactions you have.

For example, people who have a Moon sign in Cancer may be hypersensitive and easily moved to tears, having a tremendous desire to help other people or animals. This is because Cancer is in its home sign (Cancer’s ruling planet is Moon.) The people born with the Moon in Aquarius are not as sensitive as Cancer, but they are lifelong students; people who like to study or work alone; individuals who can turn their idea in graphic form on a computer into a physical form. These people often work on something big or achieve great success in secrecy without anyone’s knowledge.

What is my Rising Sign?

Your rising sign rules your self-expression – your mannerisms, your social self, and your outlook on the world.  Your rising sign is sometimes referred to as your “front door” – this is the version of yourself that you present to others. 

This sign is the personality people will associate you with before getting to know you well enough to see your Sun sign traits that are your intrinsic identity or form an intimate relationship with you to discover your Moon sign traits. If you’ve always felt like your horoscope was off for you, it’s likely because how you present yourself to the world is very important to you, and you tend to view yourself through the lens of your rising sign.

Try reading the horoscope for your Rising sign and see if that seems like a better fit. If so, take the time to get to know the Sun sign aspects of yourself – there’s more to each of us than the mask we present to the world!

Final word

The big three (sun, moon and ascendant) are an important part of our astrological DNA. However, there are several other planets, such as Mars, Venus, or Jupiter, that are just as important, and if we want to look under cover of the entire shape of our astrological DNA, it is essential to know other aspects of your birth chart, such as signs in other planets or astrological houses.