Degrees in Astrology: 3 Facts About These Vital Measurements

In a birth chart, degrees are used as a map to locate any planet or placement. 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 to some astrologers

Understanding degrees in astrology is vital, so in this article, I will teach you to master the use of degrees, quick and easy!

3 facts about degrees in astrology

1. Degrees in astrology charts are equally divided into signs

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 signs on this chart and every chart is 30°.

This doesn’t change.

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

Astrologers use degrees to pinpoint the location of anything 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 into 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 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

Of course, every degree can be an important piece of your chart depending on which planet sits in it or based on the role it plays in an important aspect. 

But, some degrees in astrology are given more weight than others by some astrologers.

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.

SignCritical 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

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