Big 3: Your Sun, Moon and Rising Signs

Your Big 3 in astrology refers to your Sun sign, your moon sign, and your rising sign. These three, found in your unique birth chart, say a lot about you.

Have you ever met someone so vastly different than you, then discovered that you share a zodiac sign? Don’t lose faith in astrology! There’s a reason not all Geminis are created equal and some Scorpios sting while others ooze sunny charm from every pore. 

There’s more to your astrological makeup than just your Sun sign—which is a fancy way of saying “your sign.” There’s also your moon sign and your rising sign. Combined these make your Big 3 in astrology.

Do zodiac signs define who you are?

Why are we all so unique, according to astrology

When you were born, all nine of the planets—plus the Sun, moon and a bunch of asteroids—were all lined up in different parts of the sky.

Astrologers mathematically divide that sky into twelve segments for each of the zodiac signs. That map is called your birth chart. Read about birth charts here.

Here’s something fascinating! Only someone born at the exact minute as you—and in the same time zone—will share your chart. Even as identical twins, who entered this plane a mere four minutes apart, we have slight variations between our birth charts. 

Someone born one day after you, or even several hours later, can have strikingly different astrological placements.

To help you start learning we offer a free birth chart with short report you can do right here. 

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What are my Big 3 signs?

Learn your Big 3: A celestial “starter kit”

Let’s keep it simple for now. A great starter-kit for exploring your astrological makeup is to learn about your Big 3: Your Sun, moon and rising (ascendant) signs.

Each one represents an important aspect of your persona.

The Big 3 are:

The Sun Sign: The essence of your personality

The Moon Sign: Your emotional nature

The Rising Sign (or Ascendant): The face you show to the world

What does my Sun sign say about me?

Your zodiac sign is actually another name for your Sun sign and is based on the Sun’s position in the sky when you were born. The Sun moves through the zodiac at the same pace each year, hanging out in a single sign for four weeks, then moving on to the next one between the 18th and 23rd of each month. (This exact dates for the zodiac seasons vary from year to year.

As the center of our universe, it makes sense that the Sun sign is central to your personality.  One way we like to explain it is like this: The Sun sign makes you blue or red or green. The other parts of the chart will tint your Sun sign so that you’re periwinkle or maroon or lime. But at the essence of it all, the Sun rules the self, your identity and the fuel that you run on to survive. Read more about your Sun sign here. 

People who are born on a cusp—AKA the day the Sun switches from one zodiac sign to the next—can solve the “which sign am I?” mystery if you know your birth time. Use our handy calculator here if you’re a confused cusper looking for resolution! 

What does my moon sign say about me?

Similarly, your moon sign is based on the moon’s position in the sky (and zodiac) at your time of birth. The moon moves rapidly through the zodiac, hanging out in each sign for 2.5 days—and completing the cycle in a month’s time. This may explain why someone born a few hours later than you may groove to the beat of a very different emotional drum.

Just as the moon waxes and wanes, hiding its face some days and exposing its surface on others, your moon sign regulates your moods. It’s definitely personal with the moon! 

Most people don’t reveal the traits of their moon sign in casual interactions. This caring, sensitive and deeply emotional astrological placement guides our private lives. Those who know us well, however, will certainly be familiar with the qualities of our moon signs! Calculate your moon sign and read all about it here. 

How does my rising sign affect my life?

Your rising sign is based on your hour of birth—so you will definitely need an accurate birth time to determine this. This one involves more complex mathematics, but essentially it works like this: Whatever zodiac sign was touching the Eastern horizon when you took your first breath sets your rising sign. 

This cycle moves the fastest of all, shifting signs every 2-3 hours and cycling through all twelve in a day. As such, there are identical twins who were born minutes apart who may have completely different ascendants. (That’s not the case for us, but we’ve met some multiples for whom it is.)

Your rising sign is a bit like your storefront window. How do you represent to the world? What do you want people to see? The ascendant directs the first impression you make—and also says a lot about who you’ll be instinctively attracted to.

Your body and physical features often correspond with your rising sign, for example someone with a Scorpio rising may have an intense (and sexy!) gaze while a Leo rising may have a wild mane of hair or a theatrical expression. Learn all about your rising sign and calculate it here.

What if I don’t know my birth time for a birth chart? 

Don’t know your birth time? There are a couple workarounds. You can input noon and have a good chance of getting the correct moon sign, although the rising sign will likely be off. Another option? Get a reading with an astrologer who specializes in rectified charts to intuitively figure it out. With their deep knowledge of the chart’s placements, they will ask you a series of questions to help them position your planets as accurately as possible. You’ll know you’ve got it “right” when it resonates for both of you!

Why is your Big 3 so important?

Putting it all together

Now that you know your Big 3, you can start introducing yourself like a true #astrogeek. Next time someone asks, “What sign are you?” you can answer like this: “I’m a Sagittarius with Scorpio moon and Capricorn rising.”

A word to the wise: Only reveal this if you have time on your hands. We’ve spent hours dissecting the interplay of friends’ Big 3—and of course our own—reflecting on all the ways this directs our life decisions. 

And remember, there is no singular way the signs play out. Use this discovery as an inquiry about your nature and as a tool for personal growth. Learning that we had moon in Scorpio didn’t give us license to be jealous or secretive.

But it did explain why those feelings could bubble up like an Achilles heel. Understanding this led us to all kinds of transformational work (also in Scorpio’s domain) that we use to this day, both in our lives an in the horoscopes we write. 

Maybe the Big 3 will be the launching pad of a fascinating journey to self-awareness and personal power!


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The AstroTwins

Identical twin sisters Ophira and Tali Edut, known as The AstroTwins, are the founders of and the authors of multiple bestselling astrology books. Their horoscopes reach millions here and through their resident astrologer column at ELLE Magazine.