The Sun Sign

The Astrological Clock in Prague
The Astrological Clock in Prague.

FUTURE LIGHT / Getty Images

The Sun sign is just the tip of the iceberg in Astrology, the study of which can take you deep into the mysteries of the universe. But from a random peek at horoscopes to becoming a devotee of the art, it all begins with the Sun.

Sun sign astrology began through observation. The very first stargazers noticed that those born under a particular constellation shared a striking number of the same characteristics. Over the millennia, these observations have been refined and expanded to give us the many associations that go along with each sign.

What's Your Sign?

When someone asks, “What’s your sign?” -- and hopefully not as a pick-up line -- they’re talking about the Sun sign, which is the basis for most horoscopes today. There are twelve Sun signs, each with its own character traits, inclinations, leanings, motivations, etc.

The sun sign blends with the rest of your planets to form your unique, one-of-a-kind astrological blueprint. And this is why someone may not always “seem like an Aries.” But it’s the best place to start when learning about astrology, and it can take you far in terms of understanding yourself and others.

Sun Sign Dates

  • Aries: March 19th to April 18th
  • Taurus: April 19th to May 19th
  • Gemini: May 20th to June 19th
  • Cancer: June 20th to July 21st
  • Leo: July 22nd to August 21st
  • Virgo: August 22nd to September 21st
  • Libra: September 22nd to October 21st
  • Scorpio: October 22nd to November 20th
  • Sagittarius: November 21st to December 20th
  • Capricorn: December 21st to January 18th
  • Aquarius: January 21st to February 18th
  • Pisces: February 18th to March 18th

The dates change slightly every year, so if you're near the cusp, be sure to look at your birth chart or ask an astrologer.

Why So Many of Us Know Our Sign

It’s a curious thing how the knowledge of the zodiac sinks in slowly so that by the tween years most people know their Sun sign along with basic attributes. It sinks in so slowly that I’d wager most don’t know when, where or how they first knew their “sign.”

The sun sign has been emphasized in recent times because it’s easy to figure out. Around the 1930’s, some journalist-astrologers started writing about them to draw in the casual reader. This has led to a proliferation of horoscopes based solely on the sun signs.

Tropical vs. Sidereal vs. Real Sky

Because the Sun's seasons at the equinox and solstices have shifted, the Sun and constellations are no longer in synch. And yet, the tropical system, based on the equinoxes, has great meaning for many and is still the popular astrology. Sidereal 'signs' dials your Sun sign back 26 degrees. It's also interesting to see where the Sun was in the real sky, which is different from sidereal and can be found out from astronomical charts of your birthday.

The Meaning of the Sun Sign in Astrology

Your sun sign describes your basic nature and the personality traits that remain constant through the ups and downs of life. It is the image you shine out to the world, but it comes from that truest, innermost part of you. The sun, which is actually a star, is at the center of the Solar System, and likewise, your sun sign describes your unique personal center.

The sun sign describes the particular way that you’re vital or powerful in life. For example, those with the sun in Cancer are known to be homebodies. More than just a quirky trait, being at home makes the Cancer feels powerful and vital, and where great things can be achieved. The sun sign shows what kind of environments and situations light you up.

From the pursuit of a mate to a career, the sun sign shows how your ego or will push out into new experiences. Each of the twelve signs does this a little bit differently, which is part of what makes the human parade endlessly fascinating. And that’s why knowing someone’s sun sign can help you understand all the people in your life from the intimate sphere to the workplace.

In romance, knowing how certain signs behave at close range can save you a lot of heartaches -- or help you plan your strategy. The sun sign gives crucial clues to understanding the dating behavior of the opposite sex.