Astrology: The Opposition (Aspect)

When Planets Are Across the Zodiac Wheel

illustration of two people tugging at tangled ball of string
 Gary Waters / Getty Images

With the opposition, often the provocation comes from "out there" - in relationships, ordeals and obstacles. 

What is the Opposition? 

The opposition is when planets are across the Zodiac wheel from each other.

It's a challenging or "hard" aspect because the energies are at odds. This means they're 180 degrees apart, and the pairing is known as a polarity. They're polar opposites. 

Many astrologers allow a wide orb—or degree range—for oppositions. The orb for oppositions and conjunctions is usually 9 to 10 degrees, but some extend that to 12.

As you'd imagine, there's a push-pull effect with these energies, like a tug-of-war. And very often both ends are overemphasized at some point, swinging back to the other side to find balance.

An aspect is the angle formed between two planets or points in any chart. And this aspect is all about balance and harmonizing these polar forces over time. 

A Quality Duo

Even though they're opposites, the signs have something in common—they are of the same quality (also known as modality). The qualities are cardinal, fixed and mutable. 

An example of an opposition is the Gemini and Sagittarius polarity. Gemini is an air sign and Sagittarius is a fire sign, but both are changeable mutable signs.

The other similarity is the masculine/feminine designation being the same in most cases. And here, both Gemini and Sagittarius are positive, masculine signs. They share traits of being outgoing, curious, lovers of learning and somewhat social.

It's useful to look at the theme of the polarity, and here we see Gemini being more locally focused (in the neighborhood), while Sagittarius casts a global net. Gemini is a collector and translator, while Sagittarius often seeks to join all these dots, in a big picture. 

If you have this opposition in your chart, both are in play and can complement each other. 


The opposition is considered a challenging aspect since it's a meeting of two opposing forces. It's not as tense and provoking as the square aspect. 

It's not a "bad" aspect, and that whole notion is in need of an update big time. Consider the power of harnessing a polarity, and it becomes a gift, and one that grows with awareness. 

And sometimes, like with any tense stand-off, opposing planets draw out the cumulative strengths, and have an anchoring effect. It's a recurring groove along which you move, back and forth.

To harmonize the opposition, look to the trines and sextiles that meet either side.

I've noticed that many oppositions are often linked to interactions with others. This is a way that internal conflicts are externalized -- we meet them in the "Other." 

In Understanding the Birth Chart, Kevin Burk writes, "Sometimes we project one of the planets onto other people—we don't express or accept the planet's energy as a part of ourselves, so thanks to the Law of Alchemy, we experience it from the outside."

Burk continues, "Ultimately, planets in opposition can learn to work together, to discover the common ground they share, and find a point of balance -- one that doesn't require either planet to compromise, but rather that simply requires each planet to respect and acknowledge the other."

This Versus That

Alan Oken uses the word versus for oppositions in his classic book Complete Astrology. And you could abbreviate with Vs. since its meaning is competing forces, and also something that's in contrast to something else. 

Elizabeth Rose Campbell wrote in Intuitive Astrology that "Oppositions broaden you, as you must import and export the qualities of the planet on either end of the seesaw toward the other."

You'll come to your own understanding of the oppositions in your chart, from living with them. Be curious and be sure to take into account the House position, as that will color the theme as well.