What Is a Sun Sign?

Posted by – August 02, 2016
Categories: Metaphysics & Unexplained Phenomena Science & Cosmology

A Brief Introduction to Astrology

Sun Signs & Beyond

zodiac-earthI was maybe seven or eight years old when I first started trying to make sense of astrology. Like many others, I began by learning the difference between a sun sign and a moon sign, and what each meant.

I’d stumbled across the new age section of a secondhand bookstore, which was tucked against the back wall of the basement level. Sitting on a step stool, I flipped through books that detailed a system much more complex than the popular understanding that people are assigned one astrological sign each depending on the day they are born (someone born roughly between March 21st and April 19th being an Aries, April 20th to May 20th a Taurus, etc.).

In reality, each person is influenced by all twelve zodiac archetypes. But since these influences are not evenly distributed, many of us resonate with certain archetypes more than others.

What most people understand as their “sign” is actually their sun sign. How is a sun sign determined? Well from March 21st to April 19th (with some variation due to leap year), the sun is between Earth and the constellation Aries. It takes the sun about a month to “move” across the constellation and enter into the next constellation, Taurus, where it spends the next month, and so forth. People born while the sun is “in” a particular sign inherit some of that sign’s archetypal traits.

In the same way that the sun moves through the constellations, the moon and planets also travel through them (as seen from Earth), each at its own pace. Everyone is born with a sun sign, a moon sign, a Mercury sign, etc. And someone born under a Libra moon will be influenced by Libra in a way that is unique to lunar influences. Someone born under a Libra Mercury will also be influenced by that sign, but in a different way. Put simply:

sun or moon or planet
sign / constellation / archetype
specific personality traits

sunThe Sun

Influence & Symbolism

Since it takes the sun twelve months to cycle through the twelve signs, sun signs are the simplest piece of the astrological puzzle to fit into place. But this isn’t the only reason they have become synonymous with astrology.

Just as the sun is the fuel that feeds life on Earth, a person’s sun sign is the central pillar of his or her personality, creating a starting point from which the rest of the individual evolves.

Associated with yang energy, sun signs pertain to creation and manifestation, particularly of the self. Not only do we inherit some of our sun sign’s archetypal traits, it also influence how we build our identities and change over time.

Sun Sign Keywords

vitality • life purpose • radiance • life force • confidence • appreciation • creativity • accomplishment


As the archetypal father in mythologies around the world, the sun was considered a god for much of human history. Now understood to be a gaseous body of hydrogen and helium, 1.3 million times the volume of the earth, the sun maintains its godlike presence. Sitting at the center of a solar system that stretches 2.82 billion miles (4.55 billions kilometers) around it, and burning with surface temperatures around 10 thousand degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 thousand degrees Celsius), it allows life to exist on Earth—a planet nearly 100 thousand miles (160 kilometers) away.


Not only does the sun’s weight bind our solar system, our sun signs similarly create the core of our identities, around which our personalities and additional planetary influences unfold. Human life revolves around the sun, while our beings revolve around our sun signs.

Learn about moon signs, here!


  1. Ellias Lonsdale, Inside Planets (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1995), 25.
  2. Alan Oken, Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology: The Classic Guide to Modern Astrology, Revised Edition (New York: Bantam, 1988), 176 – 186.
  3. VerDarLuz, Codex of the Soul: Astrology, Archetypes & Your Sacred Blueprint (Berkeley: Evolver Editions, 2012), 84 – 90.
Tags: Astrology Astronomy

About the Author

Marina is the Marketing & Digital Programs Coordinator at North Atlantic Books. After living in New Orleans and Amsterdam, and exploring a couple of continents, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at NAB. She's passionate about astrology, nonfiction books, and sustainable living, as well as all things metaphysical.