Understanding Degrees and Minutes in Astrology (2024)

Understanding Degrees and Minutes in Astrology (1)

Many lovers of Astrology may not realize that there is much more to it than zodiac signs and planets. There are many facets of Astrology that go completely unrecognized by the greater majority who may have a basic understanding of how this incredibly detailed divination practice works. In fact, Astrology is boundless!

As you probably already know, considering you’re reading this post, there are twelve zodiac signs in Astrology, as well as ten, main planets that Astrologists frequently use as their basis for an Astrology chart. Both the planets and the signs have their own set of individual characteristics. Therefore, most people tend to believe that there isn’t much difference between one Virgo, for example, and another Virgo, but this is wildly incorrect.


In a recent post, we talked about the astrological decans. If you haven’t read that yet, you can find it here.

As a quick recap, decans are how each of the zodiac signs are split up into thirds. For example, Aries has three decans which divide the sign into different parts. Decan 1 is at the beginning of Aries, decan 2 is in the middle of Aries, and decan 3 is at the end of Aries. Decan 1 is closer to Pisces and decan 3 is nearer to Taurus.

Decans work in the same way for each of the signs. For Taurus, decan 1 is closer to Aries and decan 3 is closer to Gemini. For Gemini, decan 1 is closer to Taurus and decan 3 is closer to Cancer. We can break the three decans even further down, however, with something called degrees. To understand degrees, let’s take a look at the chart wheel in the image below.


It’s important to be aware that within each sign, there are a total of thirty degrees. Each ten degrees are the equivalent of one decan. Zero to ten degrees is the first decan, eleven to twenty degrees is the second decan, and twenty-one to thirty degrees is the third.

For now, focus your attention on the sun symbol toward the bottom of the image, which looks like this:

You can find the sun within the third house, in the sign of Aquarius, where the symbol looks similar to this one: ♒︎

Here, we can figure out what degree the sun is in by counting the lines in the sign of Aquarius from left to right.

Let’s look more closely.

Understanding Degrees and Minutes in Astrology (2)

In the next image, I’ve circled the sun and pointed an arrow at the degree that the sun is in. You can see that we are in the sign of Aquarius and in the third house. The longer blue lines represent the degree at zero and thirty, which are the first and last degrees.

Understanding Degrees and Minutes in Astrology (3)

A common mistake that people often make is that they begin counting degrees on the line where the house begins instead of the line where the sign starts. This is why I’ve drawn the blue lines so that you can see where the sign’s degrees begin.

Now, the sun may appear to be in the thirteenth degree, but it is actually in the twelfth degree and this is because of the minutes within a degree.


Just like an hour has sixty minutes, so do degrees in Astrology. This is why the sun looks as though it’s at the thirteenth degree, but is actually in the twelfth degree. It’s due to the sun being at the end of the twelfth degree and around the fifty-eighth or fifty-ninth minute.

Let’s assume that the sun is at fifty-eight minutes in the twelfth degree, meaning it’s in the second decan. In a chart, it may be shown as something like: Sun in Aquarius at 12°58′

Although it’s tempting, it’s critical that we do not round the minutes to a nearby degree.

Look at the image once more and find the symbol for Mars, which looks like this:

Above Mars, there is a “2,” which means Mars is in the second degree of Pisces. The mark connecting Mars to the degree it’s in sits just past the second degree. Based on its location, let’s assume that Mars is in Pisces at 2°19′ or two degrees and nineteen minutes, putting it in the first decan of Pisces.

Why It’s Important to Know

So, at this point, you may be wondering what any of this even matters. It matters because this can tell us more about the planet. Let’s use the sun as our example once more.

The sun in the image is at 12°58′ in Aquarius, which is in the second decan. Therefore, it’s nowhere near Capricorn or Pisces. This means that this person’s sun sign is extremely Aquarian, considering it’s nearly right in the middle of the sign of Aquarius.

If the sun were in 1°32′, we would see a more serious-nature type of Aquarius due to a Capricorn influence. Conversely, if the sun were at 28°47′, the person could be a softer, more sensitive type of Aquarius near Pisces.

Understanding Degrees and Minutes in Astrology (4)

The paragraph above could explain three people whose sun signs are all in Aquarius, but within a separate decan and in different degrees within Aquarius. With that, we’re able to see how the three Aquarians are unique from one another. Of course, there are many other factors to take into consideration, such as the other signs and points within their chart. This does, however, give us more insight into each planet in one’s chart.

When we look at Mars at 2°19′ in Pisces, we know it’s in the first decan. Not only that, but it’s at the beginning of the first decan of Pisces. With that being said, the chances that their Mars is influenced by Aquarius is highly likely. This may give the person some Aquarian tendencies mixed in with their Pisces Mars. We may do this with all planets within the chart to gain a deeper understanding of each placement.

In a later post, we’ll discuss what we call “critical degrees,” as well as “cusps” in Astrology. To understand them, we must first understand how degrees work. Be on the lookout for those if you’d like to dive even deeper! If you still haven’t registered your email to receive updates, you may do that here.


  • There are 3 decans in each of the zodiac signs
    • First Decan
    • Second Decan
    • Third Decan
  • There are ten degrees in each decan within a sign
    • Decan One: 0–10 degrees
    • Decan Two: 11–20 degrees
    • Decan Three: 21–30 degrees
  • A planet that is in the second decan of a sign is generally not influenced by surrounding signs
  • Each sign also contains thirty degrees
  • Degrees start at the beginning of the sign, not the house
  • Degrees can tell us where exactly a planet is located within a sign
  • Depending on the planet’s degree, it may take on minor qualities of a nearby sign
  • Different people who have the same sign for a specific planet will likely have it within a different degree and/or decan
  • A degree has sixty minutes within it
  • Minutes should never be rounded to the nearest degree


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Understanding Degrees and Minutes in Astrology (2024)


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