Sun, Moon, and Rising Signs: Astrology’s Big Three

Why your sun, moon, and rising signs matter, and a look into what your big three mean for you.
collage of sun moon and rising planets for natal chart

Your sun, moon, and rising make up what astrologers call the big three. Why are they so big? Are they any more important than the rest of your natal chart, which illustrates the placements of the planets at your time of birth? While they aren’t more important, they are certainly highlights of your natal chart, and this article will explain why, as well as give you insight on how to find your big three and what to do with them when you do! 


Why astrologers want to know your birth time

There are many websites and apps you can use to look at your natal chart. Astro.com and Astro-seek.com are two favorites, and Time Passages is a popular choice, too. Most natal chart calculators you’ll come across will show your natal chart wheel and list the placements. 

You will need to know your birth time to access your rising sign (also referred to as the ascendant). If you don’t, your natal chart will usually be drawn up for sunrise, placing the sun on your ascendant—this is called a solar chart. Most astrologers use solar charts when writing horoscopes (as opposed to, or in conjunction with, musing about the general archetypes of the alignments) because it gives them a reference point for interpreting the planetary positions from each zodiac sign’s general point of view. 

If you know your rising sign, many astrologers suggest reading your horoscope for your rising sign, too, because having both options will describe the astrological forecast from two important reference points in your chart. Is one more accurate than the other? We must keep in mind that astrology is a human-created language of archetypes, not a science, and that accuracy is sort of beside the point: it’s a tool for self-discovery, not the answer to who you are or what will unfold.

Often, you will also need to know your birth time to learn your moon sign, unless you were born on a day when the moon was only in one sign instead of leaving one and entering another. If you’re born on the cusp—meaning the sun was at the tail end of one zodiac sign and about to enter another—you will need to know your birth time to determine if the sun was in one sign or the other. 


Don’t know your birth time? Don’t stress! First off, your sun, moon, and rising don’t define you. You determine what these placements mean for you, so if you were born on a day when the sun or moon could have been in one sign or another, do a little research and see which you identify with more. You can also work with an astrologer to “rectify” your birth chart: This is a process when an astrologer works out your rising sign by working backward, asking you about your life and seeing how applicable transits line up. Or, again, you can just use your sun sign as your rising sign. 

Your rising sign

The moon represents our innermost self, while the sun highlights overarching themes of our lives. Where does this leave the rising sign, also called the ascendant? If the moon is yesterday, the sun is tomorrow, then the rising is right now. It’s the look on your face while you read this article. It’s your aesthetic, your demeanor, what you mean to project—and, sometimes, it’s even what you don’t mean to project. It’s the wrapping paper that you, the gift to this world, come in! 

Your sun sign

If the moon represents the past, the sun represents our destiny. It’s our general personality and ego. Scientifically, the sun is the center of our solar system, and astrologically, the sun is the core of our personality. It’s who we are in our hearts, and it can also speak to our life goals and purpose. The sun symbolizes where we find meaning, and generally, it’s the sign people use for astrology memes… the sun is simply the center of attention! Sadly, some astrologers forget about the sun when they venture deeper into astrology. Because the sun sign is often what people first encounter when they discover astrology, it can become relegated to “beginners stuff,” but that’s untrue and unfair to the sun, which is rich with symbolic meaning in our birth charts. It’s the sun’s sign and placement in the chart that points to what brings us joy and which can reveal to us how to be our authentic selves!

Your moon sign 

If you’re romanced by the nighttime, the stars, shadows, and hidden things, you’ll appreciate the moon, as in, moon signs! VICE senior astrologer Annabel Gat wrote a book about it, called The Moon Sign Guide. The moon symbolizes our hidden selves, our memories, our deepest desires. It describes your brand of nostalgia and sentimentality, your emotional life, your sensitivities, and your needs around safety and comfort. While the sun reflects purpose and your rising sign is your demeanor while you do it all, the moon sign is what’s stirring inside of you.


What do I do with my sun, moon, and rising?

Now that you know what your sun, moon, and ascendant sign are, what do you do? Well, you will probably enjoy astrology jokes more, as you will have more context to your own birth chart. You can examine different aspects of your personality from an astrological lens, and you can also branch out and learn more about compatibility; however, remember to read about your personality or about a zodiac sign pairing with a sense of humor! Use astrology as a storytelling tool for self-reflection, not as a replacement for common sense or a crutch to avoid reality. Marvel at humanity’s desire to find meaning! It’s perhaps the most astounding thing about astrology, after all. 

Curious to know what your big three mean for you? Find your sun, moon, and rising below to read more about what the stars have to say about everything from your aesthetic to your innermost self.


Aries Sun: The sun, the planet of the individual and soul, is in its place of astrological exaltation in the sign of Aries. What does that mean? Aries can excel at being themself, arguably better than any other zodiac sign. Leave it to Aries sun to “let it be,” the title of a song co-written by Aries sun Paul McCartney and Aries rising John Lennon. Aries, the beginning of the zodiac’s circle, can symbolize the unity of all things, and through this, finds a sense of infinity in every tiny moment. Maybe this is where they get their beginner’s luck. They are quick thinking and innovative. Thriving as leaders, they have presidential vibes. They have the motivation and willpower to climb to the top, starting with a passionate spark.

Aries Moon: As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries moon is comfortable experiencing new things and welcomes first experiences with an open heart. They can be nostalgic for their firsts, holding memories of their beginnings dear. Cardi B might be a stylish Libra, but she has told fans about her Aries moon, which speaks to her drive, fearlessness, and first-place achievements. Some of the most famous action movie stars have this placement, like Yun Fat-Chow and Chuck Norris, which can be considered a mark of an adventurous and lively person, not afraid to do their own stunts.


Aries Rising: Aries rising is constantly on the move with a can-do attitude. You can spot them from their audacity and bold moves, their immediacy and bravery. No stranger to athleisure, Aries rising can rock a sporty look, whether they’re sweating or not. If they’re not leaning into their preppy, team captain vibe, they can be seen wearing a rebelliously cutting-edge get-up, inventing a style you’ve never seen before. Or they’re happy in some tattered band t-shirts. They’re truly a punk rock jock, like a cheerleader in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video.


Taurus Sun: Sensual, earthy Taurus has a grounded presence. They enjoy the beauty of nature and have a placid air about them, although they are also known to be stubborn from time to time. Being in an unsightly or smelly place does Taurus no service. They know what they like and can take time to adjust to new things, but they are far from vanilla. They long to be exceptional, and to stand out for their creative vision, unwavering loyalty, and strong convictions.

Taurus Moon: The moon represents how we nourish ourselves and rest, so it makes sense that the moon is exalted (meaning, very happy) in Taurus! Taurus moon knows the best ways to rest and fuel. It’s a moon sign that is connected to physical needs while staying grounded in the reality of their emotions. A Taurus moon can hold space for their feelings and can manage them gracefully—being physical and neurological sensations, emotions are of the body. A massage can go a long way for a Taurus moon working through complex moods.


Taurus Rising: Sensuality is important to Taurus rising. Pleasant sounds, fabrics, and scents surround their aura, and Taurus rising chooses to decorate themself to the best of their ability. Their ornaments manifest in many ways. Some have been known to do one, sometimes two wardrobe changes over the course of a party. Maybe they’re experts at the art of hair and makeup and can make their own work look professionally done. Or maybe they have discovered a cozy, minimalistic look that expresses every fiber of their being. Regardless of how their sensuality manifests, Taurus is a beauty and fashion-forward rising sign. 

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Gemini Sun: Gemini is one of the most adaptable signs to be born under! They will take on different angles, just because they hope to gain understanding. A Gemini sun can see many different ways of being, and they know that there are at least two sides to every story. Being able to juggle many different subjectivities helps Gemini to get a little closer to the slippery truth and makes them able to hold many different roles. Their many different talents can make them hard to put into a box, but the word “multidisciplinary” suits them well. They naturally straddle the border between different realms, one foot in and one foot out!

Gemini Moon: Just as the moon absorbs and reflects the sun’s light, so does a Gemini moon absorb information, details, and data. This moon sign finds comfort in books and might spend as much time researching and explaining their feelings as they do actually sitting with them. A more mature Gemini moon can sit with painful emotions before jumping into rationalization mode. Once a Gemini moon has fully processed their emotions, they are usually eager to help others do the same. The grandfather of psychology, Sigmund Freud, had a Gemini moon, after all.


Gemini Rising: You can spot a Gemini rising by their playful sense of style. Like Taurus rising, they are decorated, but they can take more risks with their accessories. A zoot suit never scared a Gemini rising. Maybe a Gemini rising with Mercury in Taurus, Scorpio, or Capricorn could be more understated with their pieces of flare, while still wearing their mind on their sleeve. Charms, jewelry, piercings, statement tees, or signature frames adorn a Gemini rising. Their fashions might refer to their own adolescence or a retro nostalgia. They have many different interests, being a Gemini, as reflected in their convertible, day-to-night sense of style. 


Cancer Sun: Cancer has a reputation for being maternal, but it might not show up in the stereotypical familial way that you think. They are simply capable of providing, guiding, and teaching in a way that allows every individual case to flourish. They want you to have everything you need to endure. In antiquity, Cancer was the zodiac sign of queendom. It is a regal sign with the capacity to rule, so don’t mistake their gentle quality for a lack of assertiveness. They might want to give you what they think is good for you, even if you haven’t asked.

Cancer Moon: A Cancer moon isn’t afraid to be silly. The moon, the planet of emotions, rules Cancer. Emotions don’t always make sense, so this sign appreciates absurdity and silliness and all creative risks that ensue. They are open to crowds, with an interest in seeing how different groups of people interact with each other. They have strong memories and stronger intuition. A Cancer moon personifies the saying “gut instinct” as much as they do “maternal instinct.” They are as open as they are protected, and can teach the world about having boundaries that are empathetic and self-preserving. 


Cancer Rising: When you meet a Cancer rising, think of the moon, and you will see it in their reflective, glowing face. Like the moon, they don’t always appear the same way, with many different phases throughout the day. Their true appearance can be a mystery to the world, as it waxes and wanes. While they covet their privacy, they are not afraid to let their feelings show, or to explore them with their trusted inner circle. Or maybe they are in the mood to command respect with their beautiful presence, only coming out once they’ve completed their routine. Stereotypical nurturers, they can be seen picking up a person or picking up an armful of plants at the nursery. Their eyes glisten as they share memories and histories.


Leo Sun: The sun is Leo’s astrological ruler, and so, they just want to be seen, understood, and witnessed. The sun has so much warmth and light to give, and so does Leo. They want to be known for their harmonious aesthetics and talent for finding beauty. There is an animated, regal radiance to this sign that can generously light up a room. Being able to express themselves openly—and flex their smarts—is a key to their happiness. Don’t underestimate Leo's intelligence. When a Leo’s in charge, they rule from the heart. Their intuition, knowledge, and sincerity are precious treasures.

Leo Moon: Leo moon is not too shy to accept VIP treatment. They welcome luxury and can feel like they are worthy of all that life has to offer. They might have been a child star in a past life or have natural gifts that make them worthy of praise and fortune. They feel for the culture at large, and their sense of body politic can make them the voice of the people. Even if they are more like poets than politicians, they know how to address and speak for a crowd. They can find large groups of people and nations to be inspiring as they find the golden thread that strings cultures together.


Leo Rising: Leave it to a Leo rising to have an outfit perfect for every occasion. They can effortlessly style something they came up with just for the party. They know that eyes will be on them, so they’re happy to dazzle. They know how to costume and how to ace a dress code. This could be because they know how to shop, putting extra thought into their aesthetic. They might have sewing skills or a personal tailor to support their latest look. Or they have a friend on speed dial ready to loan them a piece necessary to complete the look. Whether they’re participating in the latest trends or steadily shining in their classic capsule wardrobe (they know better than to indulge in fast fashion), it’s hard to catch them looking their worst. Leo is a visual sign. After all, it’s ruled by the sun, the light that allows us all to see!

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Virgo Sun: Virgo just wants to do it right, and they don’t care how long it takes them to get there. This is a very skillful sign, but their talents are refined through practice. They always seem to be whittling away at something and like to keep themselves busy. They are supportive, dynamic, and there for you if needed. They have a strong capacity for forgiveness since they understand that all good things take time. Patience is one of their song suits, but they know how to work quickly. Sometimes, they might prefer to take charge or give instructions rather than watch someone fumble around.

Virgo Moon: Virgo is the sign of digestion, and the moon provisions, so Virgo moons can be nerdy about nutrition. Like food, they process information and feelings with careful consideration. They know how they and their body feels, and might come across as selective as they name just what they need. They’re observant and detail-oriented, which might lead to nervousness as they pay attention to the little things. They can remember quotes, word for word, with a sense of humor. The sign of the farmer, they have humble beginnings and a capacity for service. Their work is fruitful. 


Virgo Rising: Virgo risings have a meekness and humility about their beauty and grace, like a bare-faced librarian outfitted in flax linen. Everyone is wondering about their skincare routine, whether they have one or not. And if they do have one, you can believe it’s meticulous. They let their nature speak for itself and know what flatters and fits them. Virgo rising’s style can be dressed-down and humble. They are drawn to uniforms, whether it’s a formal uniform or just their own personal one. The mark of their trade is often a key element of their personal style. They have the swag of a cartoon character, maybe dressed up like a baker with a little apron and funky Minnie Mouse clogs, alluding to their mental list of “-cores” (baker-core, Minnie Mouse-core, archival-core, etc.). 


Libra Sun: Libras always seem to be in the middle of something, somehow. A mediator in every sense of the word, Libra has an eye for harmony and seeks it out through socializing or creative output. Their vibes bring harmony into the world. Their goal is to balance. They can be good at compartmentalizing but might find things naturally flow together in their own chaotic way, without Libra’s creative direction. Whether through art, philosophy, or ethics, Libra is devoted to perfecting and analyzing relationships—between individuals, sounds, colors, and authorities! Their cool rationalism and airy vibe can be mistaken for a lack of empathy, but they seem to warm up in pairs or parties.

Libra Moon: A Libra moon craves mental stimulation and intellectual connection. They can find comfort and grounding through having company around. The saying “misery loves company” could resonate with a Libra moon, and they should be cautious about who they surround themselves with. They’re impressionable. They can absorb other people’s moods and ought to learn that it’s not their job to make others feel better, although they enjoy it. They have strong feelings about politics and justice and can enjoy reading about political history or justice movements, both current and past. They are talented at finding threads that unify two seemingly polarized sides.


Libra Rising: Libra risings have the most balanced, symmetrical appearance. This doesn’t necessarily mean their faces are uncannily even, although they might have a middle part or a symmetry to their clothing. Their harmoniousness and symmetry is also conceptual: If their outfit looks gauchely formal, they’ll embellish it with a personable detail to bring it down to earth. Or, a counter-example: If they are wearing sweatpants, they’ll throw on lipstick and perfume. They choose to balance their looks in many ways. They can be dressed for comfort but somehow look fashionable. Leave it to Libra rising to make hand-me-downs or their oldest clothes look like next season’s couture. There’s just something naturally graceful about them that pulls it all together. They read the room and compose themselves accordingly.


Scorpio Sun: Don’t let the scary scorpion zodiac sign fool you: Scorpio is one of the most creative and affectionate signs of the zodiac! They feel deeply and can easily see through other people’s tough acts. Their strong emotions give them x-ray vision that points them toward a deeper message-- most of the time they’re right, but sometimes they just have strong feelings. Learning the difference between their strong feelings and reality is one of their life lessons. Their finger is on the pulse as they stay clued into the world’s subconscious undercurrents. They are fearless in calling out hypocrisy. They know that feelings don’t disappear but rather change form.

Scorpio Moon: Scorpio is the most resourceful moon sign: they can find a way to make the most out of what they have. This moon sign needs to learn that it’s OK to ask for more, even if they don’t feel it’s necessary. Knowing how to make something last forever is a skill. Perseverance and determination bring Scorpio moon to unexpected heights. While they might be able to make do with a hermetic lifestyle, they can make it even higher if they come into excess, but that would require them to trust and accept the help of others fully. Scorpio is one of the most private and cloistered moon signs. They are extremely protective of their deep feelings and private information.


Scorpio Rising: A Scorpio rising’s tough exterior defends a sensitive interior. When getting to know a Scorpio rising, you may get the sense that you’re not getting the full story, but it’s all too easy to read between the lines. They want you to pay attention to the subtext, after all. They have a lingering, subliminal, and underground vibe. Any revenge they seek and venom spewed tells us more about their hurt feelings and the tender heart which they ail than it does any psychic fallout lying in their wake. Lana Del Rey, Scorpio rising, is as famous for her high-octane sex appeal as she’s known for performing in a quirky collage of athletic leggings and stilettos, or nonchalantly reporting that her red carpet dress is from Dillard’s. Like Aries rising, Scorpio rising’s body is a weapon, just more incognito, and their sartorial choices are their ammunition.


Sagittarius Sun: While they can come across as pompous, Sagittarius’s moral high ground is humanitarian at its core. They have other people’s best interests at heart, even if an immature or more egotistical Sagittarius would make it seem like their morals are immutable truths. Immutability is not Sagittarius’s strong suit: Sagittarius is, by definition, a mutable sign (a sign at the end of a season). Mutable wisdom lies in its flexibility, an ability to simultaneously see many different, often conflicting truths. As a sign that is always seeking knowledge, they remain open to different perspectives and ways of life. This can be why they are stereotypically interested in travel and study.

Sagittarius Moon: The emotional landscape of a Sagittarius moon is vast and endless, like an open field. The Prophet was written by Sagittarius moon poet, Khalil Gibrahn. A quote: “The timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness.” Talk about an open field! They have a sense of internal adventurousness and are willing to explore the depths of their minds and hearts to find spiritual and philosophical truths. Even the skeptics among them have a large capacity for faith, hope, and belief, which can be found in their attitudes and personalities rather than any material beliefs. They’re connected to their spirituality and inner compass, knowing what’s right and how to direct themselves through even the darkest nights of the soul. 


Sagittarius Rising: Riding high, whether above the trendy crowds or the fluffy clouds, Sagittarius rising makes their presence known—they’re hard to miss! Think of Elvis, the most famous Sagittarius rising. His widespread image was made known by his larger-than-life stage presence. Even the studious library rats of them hold a grand presence—they’re likely intellectual heavyweights. It’s not about being boisterous, but having soul. It’s a soulful, animated element that graces Sagittarius rising with their sparkle and spirit. Whether they’re cutting loose on a dance floor and commanding a crowd or crouched over a book while holding a cup of tea, their hearts and eyes are wide open. The outgoing ones can be the life of the party, boisterous and hilarious, not afraid to tell the truth. Symbolized by the centaur, an equestrian aesthetic manifests in various ways in a Sag rising’s life.


Capricorn Sun: Capricorn suns are interested in the past and know that they're writing history with their actions. As such, they're determined to build something awesome for future generations to remember. Their determination and grit help them achieve their goals (and they have many!). Their relationships bring them to the highest possible places, and they like to have a partner with whom they can build their legacy. They’re not above dating people from humble backgrounds; they know it’s possible to create whatever world they envision with enough patience and time. They're the skeptics and taskmasters who hold the other zodiac signs to higher standards.

Capricorn Moon: Capricorn moons can have a hard shell and can "tough out" many hard situations, but there's also a very romantic side to them that's tender and loving. Capricorn can have a reputation for being rigid, but this moon sign learns that spontaneity can be key to emotional wealth. They likely had to grow up fast and need to return to playfulness in their adulthood, somehow. Finding someone who they feel safe to be silly, emotional, or absurd with can help to bring them out of their shell, as they learn how to honor and celebrate their loyal and sentimental soft side. 

Capricorn Rising: On first impression, Capricorn rising might seem like the most boring buzzkill you’ve ever met, with their laundry list of personal restrictions and dry watercooler small talk. But give them some time and you’ll discover the sensitive soul beneath layers of dark clothing and promotions. Every villain has a pitiful back story, and Capricorn rising’s is the longest. They can appear much more severe than they really are, but who can blame them for holding it down when no one else will. Satyric aesthetics can follow them—they are the GOAT themselves.


Aquarius Sun: It’s hard to write about Aquarius suns: they don’t want to be perceived or put into a category. Skeptics, contrarians, and “rebels,” they hold themselves and others to a high standard. They are the first to opt out of anything that does not pass the vibe check and are always happy to challenge the conventional, easy route. Aquarius likes a challenge and might believe that the only way to find success is through toiling and heavy lifting. They can be happy to discover simplicity someday, but more often enjoy the depth and richness of things with many different origins, finding their meeting point in one vessel.

Aquarius Moon: An Aquarius moon can be marked by their timeless vibe or unique sense of humor. They have a quirky, likely dry and sarcastic quality to their jokes. Like Scorpio moon, they are private or guarded about their feelings, which require solitude to think through. They have a good intuitive sense of group dynamics, politics, and sociology. They have a sense of who is being left out of the discourse, and they like to bring care and attention toward people on the outside looking in. Their sense of intellect is strong, and they require a lot of patience, and proof, to change their minds.

Aquarius Rising: Aquarius risings can be the most unique people you’ve ever met, so it is difficult for astrologers to pigeonhole them. They like to go against the grain, which can find them in alternative fashion or anti-fashion. They enjoy doing things a little differently and are interested in undiscovered mysteries. They’re happy to be on the cutting edge and have likely been 10 years before the current trend cycle because they simply never changed with the crowd to begin with.


Pisces Sun: Pisces lives in search of the overarching truth, but Pisces doesn’t need to go to university or go backpacking across Europe to find it, although they’re happy trekking and exploring in all of its forms. A Pisces uses their inner world, emotions, and spirituality to come to a perfect knowledge of truth in all of its mysterious and wonderful glory. Highly intuitive with one of the biggest emotional thresholds of the zodiac, Pisces have space in their heart for everyone and everything, although they do not always have time of day. The fishes are fine with turning around and swimming the other way if they feel that it’s the right thing to do.

Pisces Moon: A Pisces moon can be naturally talented at expressing their feelings. A sense of humor, wonder, and creativity mark this moon sign. They’re not afraid of depth, and have a large capacity to hold emotions that seem to be in conflict. They are able to understand and unite all roads that connect their experiences. This is a moon sign that is fearless in matters of healing and empathy. Their openness can be a curse and a blessing, and as they mature they learn how to be both kindhearted and discerning at the same time. 

Pisces Rising: Look into the eyes of a Pisces rising and you may be transported into another world. Can you see the portals? Their deep gaze sparkles and may be accentuated with fancy glitter or tears. Their fashion sense can be ethereal and expressive. No stranger to grunge, they don’t mind a few holes in their clothes. Or maybe they prefer a sleek, wet look—high-fashion and tailored. They likely have a signature color as a way to express their deep and philosophical emotions. Pretty jewelry, flowy fabrics, or unique textiles can be a mark of a Pisces rising. Or maybe they seem alternative, edgy. Either way, their fashion is a way to express their worldview.