“What’s your sign?” may be a tired pick-up line, but it might also be a trickier question than you think – if you were born around the time when the signs change, or “on the cusp” of two signs, as the saying goes.
When you say that you’re a Gemini or a Leo, what you are saying is that the sun was in that sign of the zodiac when you were born. The kind of popular astrology that people are familiar with from newspapers tells us that the signs change with the calendar. Capricorn is from December 22nd to January 19th, for example. But the real situation is a bit more complicated…
For one thing, the sun moves into each sign at a slightly different time each year with respect to our calendar. There are years when the sun enters Capricorn on December 21st, and years when it enters on December 22nd. And it doesn’t enter at midnight on those days, so it could be that if you were born at 11:00 a.m. on December 21st you would be a Sagittarius, while if you were born at 11:30 a.m. – just a half hour later – you would be a Capricorn
Let’s not forget time zones! If the sun enters Aquarius at 4:52 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, as it did this year, that would mean that it would be 1:52 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Cross the International Date Line, and things could get a bit complicated, with the sun changing signs on different dates.
Now, really, the sun isn’t moving through the signs at all, it’s just the way it appears from our planet. But it’s more convenient to say, “The sun is in Libra” than “Libra is the background of the sun from our perspective.” In fact, in the kind of Western astrology most people are familiar with, the sun doesn’t have the stars of the constellation Libra as a background, but a segment of the sky based on the spring equinox. The astrology most common in India does use the constellations, although even there the starting points of each sign are not based on the stars.
So, if you’re born in the middle of a sign, rest easy – you know what your sun sign is. But if you were born “on the cusp” you might need to do a little research to find out exactly what sign you are. There are many free sources for making a horoscope available on the web, and all you need is your birth date, time, and place. And in the process you’ll also get to see where your moon, Venus, and other planets were when you were born.