What is a horoscope?
A horoscope (also called an astrological chart) is a map of positions of luminaries and planets (sometimes also asteroids) of the Solar System in the sky at the time of an event. The most widely used and the most informative horoscope that describes a person’s psychological profile, natural abilities and difficulties, as well as the major life themes that persist throughout the whole life, is the natal horoscope (the natal chart). This is a map of the sky at the time of your birth in the place of your birth. An astrological chart, or horoscope, is a schematic representation, and it uses an artificial system of coordinates that does not exist in reality in the sky, but does reflect the position of the planets in the given place at the given time. This system of coordinates is called Zodiac (see “What is Zodiac?”).
The planets move around the Sun with different speed, and the time to complete their orbits is different too: e.g., Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, moves fast and has relatively small orbit that the planet completes in only in 88 days, while the Earth travels around her orbit in 365 days. Saturn takes ~29 years to complete its path around the Sun. Thus, planets and luminaries move with the different speed in the sky, and they go through the Zodiac signs (the parts of the Ecliptic, or the belt where they all move in the sky) with the different speed too. For examples, the Moon stays in a Zodiac sign for only 2.5 days, while Pluto stays in the same sign for many years.
The horoscope wheel (360°) is divided into equal 12 signs (30°), and the position of the planets in the sky at a certain time in a certain location is recorded as their position on the wheel in one of the 12 signs.
Traditionally, astrology relates all the positions to the Earth, as we see the movements of the planets in the sky from the Earth. Although we now know that the Earth is not the center of the Universe, drawing and observing the celestial bodies relative to the Earth does not change the facts of their movement, it’s just changes the point of reference. It is similar to observing a turtle going from the point A to the point B: two people may be on the different sides of the line between A and B and observe the movement as left to right or right to left, but the turtle will still travel form A to B. Whether you stand close to the line and have to turn your head to observe the turtle’s movement from A to B or you stand far away and see A-to-B distance as equal to the width of your two fingers, the turtle will still arrive from the point A to the point B, and both observers will witness the path.
The signs are positioned differently in each horoscope: e.g., Aries can be on the left or on the right, on the top or on the bottom of the wheel. The position of each sign is determined by the place of the birth (or event): the sign that is rising over the horizon at a specific place is drawn on the left, and the rest of the signs occupy the wheel following their order. The position of each sign in the sky and on the wheel is very specific for the place of the birth, and this is why two people born at the exactly same time, but in different countries or cities, will be different.
In addition to the signs and planets in the signs, the wheel also shows “the houses” – the division of the wheel into sectors, similar to a pie. This division is place- and time-specific. There are many methods to calculate the borders between the houses: there is no perfect way to draw a 3Dspace of the Earth and the sky on 2D surface, similar to the 2D map of the world (you either need to stretch some countries or to draw holes and breaks in the picture of the world). Each house represents an area of life or personality, and the planets and signs in each house characterize the area of life for each person. E.g., house #4 represents your family life, your mother, and your home. Thus, if you have the sign of Saggitarius coinciding with your 4th house, this may mean that your family traveled and moved around a lot (Saggitarius is a sign of travel).
In addition to signs, planets, and houses, the horoscope also shows relationships between the planets (shown in lines of different colors on the wheel). These are angles between the planets that have special meaning for an astrologer (e.g., if the planets are 90° apart, it will indicate a conflict or struggle between the events and traits represented by the two planets; if the planets are next to each other, they work together in the house where they are found in the manner of the sign they are in).
Thus, astrologers interpret the horoscope using the symbolic meanings of the signs, the planets, the houses, and the angles between the planets. There are thousands and thousands of combinations that may occur in the horoscopes, and they never repeat. The combinations in your natal horoscope make up a unique signature that reflects the energies of your life and your personality.