Aspects: A Definition

By Eileen Nauman, DHM (UK)
Copyright ©1997-2012. All Rights Reserved.

Aspects in astrology are determined by measuring the geometric angles that the planets form with one another. When two planets or a planet and cusp angle (such as the ascendant (ASC) or Midheaven (MC)) form a specific angle or distance from one another, they are in aspect to one another. Here are the major aspects utilized in astrology:

Conjunction: (Symbol is a circle with a single line sticking out the right side of the circle.) Two planets or a planet and ASC/MC are within 10 degrees ‘orb’ of one another, they are said to be ‘conjunct.’ A conjunction brings two planets or a planet and angle together. There is intensification or focus, like a laser, in this aspect. You have two planets and their unique natures paired off as a team, together. Some pairings are very amenable and friendly and others are not. Depending upon the planet’s involved, this can create a dynamic duo that gives you focus in your life via these two planets, or like a bad team, each planet wants to go its own way, and there’s a battle Royal going on inside you. Learning to ‘tame’ these two unruly planets may take some time.

  • Example: Sun 5 degrees Virgo conjunct Venus 10 degrees Virgo. This is a conjunction between Sun and Venus. They are 5 degrees apart from one another. They can be up to 10 degrees apart and still be influencing one another. A Sun/Venus conjunction is considered beneficial and is a ‘team’ working together as one unit–in one direction without fighting one another.
  • Example: Moon 29 degrees Aries conjunct Mars 9 degrees Pisces. This is a conjunction between Moon and Mars. They are 10 degrees apart from one another. A Moon/Mars conjunction is considered a battle because these two are contrary to one another’s personal expression. They are a ‘team’ that is working against one another. The person who owns this configuration in their chart will have to learn how to integrate them over time–and they can do it.
  • Example: Mercury 2 degrees Scorpio conjunct Ascendant 28 degrees Libra. This is a conjunction between a planet and an angle. There is four degrees orb between them. When a planet conjuncts an angle it heightens the angle with the personality of the planet involved. In this example, this individual would be said to be very Mercurial or like Mercury’s personality: quicksilver, fast thinking, talking and restless.

Sextile: (Symbol looks like a star or asterisk.) This is considered a soft/easy/good aspect where two planets are sixty degrees apart from one another. There is usually a smaller orb, six or eight degrees, between them. Sextiles always present one with an opportunity but you have to apply the hard work and elbow grease. If you do, you’ll reap the benefits of your dedication, discipline and hard work with success. This is the ‘journeyman apprentice’ where the sextile promises raw talent or skills via the planets involved, but you have to mature it by working at it for some time before there is fruition.

  • Example: Venus 20 degree Libra sextile Jupiter 25 degrees Sagittarius. These planets are 65 degrees apart from one another, and within ‘orb’ to be a ‘sextile’ aspect to one another.

Square: (Symbol looks like a square.) This is considered a hard aspect. I’ve always called a square “a stumbling block or a building block” and the person’s attitude will make it one or another. This is two planets that are ninety degrees apart from one another; or ‘squared’ to one another. The friction created by a hard aspect such as a conjunction, square, inconjunct or opposition is what makes us grow and be productive in some way.

  • Example: Saturn 10 degree Aries square Uranus 20 degrees Cancer. These two planets have 100 degrees apart, but within the ten degree orb of a ‘square’ aspects to make them ‘square’ to one another.

Trine: (Symbol looks like a triangle with its point upward.) This is when two planets are 120 degrees apart from one another. A trine is said to be a soft/easy aspect; however, if one does not have enough other ‘hard’ aspects in their chart, trines can easily become lazy and indolent and nothing happens. If trines are energized by other hard aspects, this is one of the most harmonious, creative flows within you. Everything between these two planets and what they represent, comes ‘easy’ to you. You don’t have to work hard to get it; it simply ‘drops into your lap’ like a fairy godmother gifting you.

  • Example: Venus 20 Taurus trine Mars 25 degrees Capricorn. This is Venus trine Mars. They are 125 degrees apart, and the exact trine is 120 degrees. There is an 8 degree orb, so these two are trined to one another.

Inconjunct: (also known as a Quincunx) (Symbol looks like one black, horizontal line with two ‘legs’ in a ‘v’ position beneath it–or a table with legs.) The inconjunct is a 150 degree angle between two planets. I’ve often said that this aspect is for the person who owns it, is like being caught “between a rock and a hard place.” The inconjunct is a hard, inflexible aspect and teaches the person who has it to either bend or break. Circumstances with this aspect do not allow any retreat; nor can the person think their way out of it. The inconjunct is about trusting one’s own inner voice and intuition because that is the only thing that is going to change the dynamic on this energy into transformation and finally, integration. This is one of the hardest aspects to work with. If one refuses to trust onesself or listen to their own instincts or gut hunches, they will often find adversity staring them directly into the face–and it doesn’t blink–you will. It is also the reason for poor health and is considered the most important aspect in medical astrology.

  • Example: Moon 10 degrees Pisces inconjunct Mars 15 degrees Leo. There is 155 degrees between these two planets, but the ‘orb’ is allowed up to 10 degrees in medical astrology and about 2 to 5 degrees in natal astrology. Moon is inconjunct Mars in this example.

Opposition: (Symbol looks like a set of dumbbells–two circles at either end joined by a black, horizontal line in between them.) This is when two planets are 180 degrees from one another. They are said to be in opposition to one another. This is considered a hard aspect that causes friction. Oppositions usually give one plenty of opportunities–whether you take them or not is up to you. On a less positive expression, it can mean a tug-of-war between you and the planets involved and confrontation is the order of the day. Oppositions will teach you about how to balance the energies of these two planets–and integrate them. Once this is done, you have an incredible palette of ‘tools’ or skills to choose from.

  • Example: Sun 10 degrees Leo in opposition to Moon 8 degrees Aquarius. These are said to be in opposition to one another. There is 178 degrees between them, and the orb on an opposition is usually between 7 and 10 degrees. The Sun is opposite the Moon.


Blank Example of a Natal Chart: