How to Read An Astrology Chart 101 (Video Lesson)

Go beyond your Sun sign horoscope and learn how to read an astrology chart, called a birth (or natal) chart, with this easy-to-follow video tutorial by The AstroTwins.

How to read an astrology chart

Watch and learn as we explain, step by step, how to interpret the planets, zodiac signs and 12 houses of your birth chart. To begin, you’ll need to do a free chart and keep it handy.

To cast a free chart, you need your time, date and place of birth. Don’t know your time? Start by checking your birth certificate. If it’s not there or you don’t have the certificate, you can write to the Office of Vital Records in your birth state (if you were born in the U.S.) for a copy. If that doesn’t yield a birth time, resort to old-school tactics. Ask any relatives who were there to get as close of an estimate as possible, or (if that doesn’t work) use 12:00 noon.

Your birth chart will reveal the blueprint of your soul, as it maps the exact positions of all the planets at your time of birth, a unique map that can show your strengths and weaknesses and purpose in this lifetime. Once you learn how to read an astrology chart, you’ll probably be inspired to do them for family and friends!

Read on for some basics on how to read an astrology chart to assist you with the video. There are additional resources at the end of this article as well.

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Let’s start with the basics. So, what is a birth chart?

The astrological chart—called a natal chart or a birth 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, and the “instruction manual” or owners-and-operators guide to yourself. (Yes, it turns out that people actually do come with instructions.)

How to read an astrology chart, your “snapshot” in time

The chart is a snapshot of where the planets were in relation to the Earth at your time of birth—a “selfie” of the cosmos at that exact second. While we know that the planets orbit around the Sun in our solar system, the chart is based on their position in the sky in relation to where you were born here on Earth. Said another way, the zodiac wheel is a freeze-frame of the planets and moon in their orbits, along with the Sun, from your vantage point on Earth. (Hey, when it comes to reading your astrology chart, you get to be the center of the universe! Doesn’t it feel good to be that every now and then?)

Free will factors into how to read an astrology chart

Astrology and free will work hand in hand; they don’t cancel each other out. We like to think of the chart as your “factory settings.” Just like you can take a computer or a mobile device 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 smartphones) are ever really the same. 

How to read an astrology chart in 3 steps

Planets: The “actors” or parts of your nature
Zodiac Signs: The “roles” each planet plays
Houses: The “stage,” or areas of your life affected by the planet

Planets are the parts of your nature

Each planet governs a specific aspect of your character or identity. For example, Jupiter shows where you’re lucky, Saturn reveals your challenges, Mercury determines your communication style, Venus influences your romantic and aesthetic style. Read about every planet’s role in the chart here.

In the “movie of your life,” the planets are the actors

Zodiac signs answer, What Are You Like?

The planets were all visiting specific zodiac signs when you were born. Zodiac signs “modify” the planets, adding nuance to their characters. The zodiac begins in the spring with Aries, which is the first sign, and travels through to Pisces, the last sign. Discover the 12 zodiac signs here!

The zodiac signs determine the roles the actors (planets) play, or the costumes they wear.

Houses are the areas of your life/the “stage”

The 12 houses of the zodiac all represent different parts of your life, from work to home to relation- ships to career. The houses follow the progression of the zodiac signs—for example, the first house is ruled by Aries, the zodiac’s first sign. The seventh house is ruled by Libra, the zodiac’s seventh sign, and so on. The planets are the “residents” of these houses, traveling through each in their journey around the Sun. Read all about the 12 Houses here!

The houses are the “movie sets” where the scenes of your life take place

Watch this video to learn how to apply the 3-Part Puzzle to your chart!

Download supplemental PDFs to learn how to read an astrology chart


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.