Astrology Degrees Explained: All You Need to Know

Astrology degrees are a form of measurement that can be used to locate any planet or placement in your birth chart. The 360 degrees of the circular chart are divided into the 12 signs of the Zodiac, and some of the degrees even hold extra special significance.


Do degrees matter in astrology? By the end of this article, you will understand degrees in astrology, why they are vital, and their meaning!

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Every sign on your birth chart is 30 degrees.
  • Degrees are read counterclockwise.
  • Every 10 degrees in a Zodiac sign is a decan and each has meaning.
  • Critical degrees are positions that may represent challenges.
3 facts about degrees in astrology

Table of Contents

1. Degrees in astrology charts are equally divided into signs

Understanding degrees is essential when learning astrology. Luckily, it may feel familiar!

In Western astrology, a birth chart is a circle. Just like in geometry class, this circular chart is measured in degrees. 

Every circle, including your birth chart, is 360 degrees, also written as 360°.

Degrees are marked with lines on birth charts on the outside circle of the chart, as shown in the example above.

Birth charts are divided evenly into 12 pieces. Each of these pieces is 30° and each piece symbolizes a different sign of the Zodiac.

In the chart example above, you can see that the size of Aries, Taurus, and Pisces are all the same size, 30°. 

In fact, each of the Zodiac signs on this chart and every chart is 30°.

This doesn’t change.

Remember that this is usually only true for the Zodiac signs, however, not the houses.

As you can see in the example chart above, the sizes of the houses aren’t all the same.

There are different ways that astrologers calculate houses and the house system used in the chart above, the Placidus house system, won’t have houses that are all 30° and will vary based on the time of year and distance from the equator.

However, in other systems, such as the equal house system, each house will always be 30°. Be sure to check which house system you are using when pulling up your chart in astrology software.

2. Degrees can be used to locate anything on a birth chart

Astrologers use degrees to pinpoint the location of any placement on a natal chart.

Degrees within a sign

One thing that is different when reading degrees in astrology is that the beginning of each sign starts over at 0°. 

In the example below, you can see what is considered to be 0° Aquarius. It is simply the border of the beginning of that sign.

a closeup of a birth chart with an arrow showing zero degrees aquarius

Astrological birth charts are read counterclockwise. 

Each little mark on the chart represents 1°.

To read the degrees on a chart you start at the beginning of any sign and, moving counterclockwise, count each little mark.

closeup of a birth chart with an arrow showing 3 degrees aquarius

In the example above, you can see that I started at 0° at the beginning of Aquarius and then, moving counterclockwise, counted 3 little marks. 

That point would be called 3° Aquarius.

The example we have been looking at in this article is Aquarius, but the degrees in every sign work in the exact same way. 

But what happens when it is time to move into a new sign? What happens with the degrees then?

Degrees when entering a new sign

The last degree mark in every sign indicates 29°.

The next mark will be the border for the next sign and you will start over at 0°. 

As you can see below, the line that indicates the end of Aquarius and the beginning of Pisces is considered 0° Pisces. 

a closeup up a natal chart indicating that the degree marks end at 29 degrees in one sign and begin at 0 degrees in the next

From there, the degrees in Pisces are measured exactly as they were in Aquarius, moving in a counterclockwise direction.

Anytime you move on your natal chart from one sign to the next, you count the degrees in this same way.

Now that you know how to read degrees on a natal chart, you can pinpoint the location of any and all important features of the chart!

When referring to the location of any feature of a birth chart, the degrees of the signs are used.

In the example below, you can see that the Moon is located at 21° of Taurus.

closeup of a natal chart with an arrow showing that the moon is at 21 degrees taurus

Some astrology software will write a planet’s degrees next to it on a chart, as you can see in the example above. There is a “21” by the Moon, indicating that it is at 21° of Taurus.

Degrees and minutes

To get even more precise measurements, degrees can be broken down into minutes. 

Each minute is 1/60th of a degree.

In the chart below, you can see that the Sun and Mercury are both 29° of Sagittarius.

a closeup of a birth chart showing that the sun is 29 degrees and 59 minutes of sagittarius and mercury is 29 degrees and 5 minutes of sagittarius

But, Mercury is 29° and 5 minutes of Sagittarius, close to the beginning of the degree, and the Sun is 29° and 59 minutes of Sagittarius, right at the end of the degree and only one minute from Capricorn!

The symbol for minutes is ‘. So, in the chart above, Mercury is 29° 5′ of Sagittarius and the Sun is 29° 59′ of Sagittarius.

3 facts about degrees in astrology infographic

3. Certain degrees in astrology are extra meaningful

Now you know how to use degrees as a measurement tool in a natal chart, but what do degrees mean in astrology?

Some degrees in astrology are given more weight than others by some astrologers. Learn more about astrology degrees meaning below!

Decans in astrology

Each sign consists of 30°. When divided into thirds, you get what is called decans

Which 10° decan a planet sits in within a house is thought to add more detail to the reading of that planet.

Not all astrologers agree on how to use decans, but one school of thought is that each decan represents a different part of the path in that soul’s evolution.

  • The first 10° in a sign, the first decan, signifies a soul beginning their journey to learn the lessons or reach the goals of that placement. 
  • The second 10° decan represents the “heart” of the odyssey. This soul isn’t new in these intentions and is right in the thick of it. 
  • The last 10° decan indicates the wrapping up of this particular part of the soul’s path. In this stage, they are finishing what needs to be done before moving on to new endeavors.

There are other ways to interpret decans, but this gives you an idea of how a planetary placement within each 10° decan of a sign could be interpreted.

Critical degrees in astrology

Critical degrees are another set of specific degrees in astrology that hold more importance for some astrologers.

For these astrologers, a planet sitting on a critical degree represents a place of challenge in the chart, or an obstacle to overcome. 

This is an area of life where you may feel as though you are striking out a lot, but if you keep at it, could experience incredible personal growth.

Each sign has specific degrees within it that are considered to be critical. Below is a table that lays it all out for you.

Sign of the ZodiacCritical Degrees
Aries0, 13, 26
Taurus8, 9, 21, 22
Gemini4, 17
Cancer 0, 13, 26
Leo 8, 9, 21, 22
Virgo 4, 17
Libra 0, 13, 26
Scorpio 8, 9, 21, 22
Sagittarius 4, 17
Capricorn 0, 13, 26
Aquarius 8, 9, 21, 22
Pisces 4, 17

Degree Theory in Astrology

Degree theory in astrology is the idea each placement in your chart, such as the positions of your planets, can offer you even more insight when you look at the degree the planet resides in.

Depending on where your planets or houses are located, that specific degree corresponds with a sign of the Zodiac. According to this theory, the qualities of this sign can add another layer of detail to what is placed there.

The table.

Sign of the ZodiacAssociated Degrees in Degree Theory
Aries1, 13, 25
Taurus2, 14, 26
Gemini3, 15, 27
Cancer4, 16, 28
Leo5, 17, 29
Virgo6, 18
Libra7, 19
Scorpio8, 20
Sagittarius 9, 21
Capricorn 10, 22
Aquarius11, 23
Pisces 12, 24

You can learn more about degree theory in the article from Astrology.com here.

What degrees are significant in astrology?

Critical degrees are a set of specific degrees in astrology that some astrologers place more importance on. Each sign in the Zodiac has different degrees within it that are considered to be critical.

What does degrees mean in astrology?

Degrees are the unit of measure used in astrology. Because it is a circle, there are 360 degrees in a natal chart. Each Zodiac sign measures 30 degrees. Some specific degrees are thought to hold more significance than others, and these are called critical degrees.

Other articles you may enjoy:
Know Your Big 3
Understanding Lines in a Chart

3 facts about degrees in astrology pin