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What the Heck is a Degree and a Minute in Astrology?

Astrology has some terminology that is foreign to many people. One of the biggest questions that people ask me is "What does a degree and minute mean?"

The term degree is most often used to describe where a planet, celestial object or calculated point is on your natal chart.

The term degree is a math term. Geometry, to be exact.

Interestingly, the term has its basis in astrology.

Let’s Talk Degrees!

If you have looked at your chart, you will see numbers here:

Or you will see them in the key that is on the chart here:

These numbers represent the degree and minute of the sign that the planet is in.

In the case of the key, it also includes seconds.

Why are degrees, minutes and seconds used in this way? It's all about geometry!

Think back to your days in geometry class. Do you remember learning about circles?

Your chart is a circle.

Every circle can be divided into 360 units called degrees.

Mathematicians believe that the ancient Babylonians came up with the calculation.

In about 2400 B.C., they noticed the circular motion of the Earth around the Sun.

They calculated that it took about 360 days for this circular orbit to be completed.

That’s how the Babylonians came to divide the circular path into 360 degrees.

This allowed them to easily track each day's passage on a circular calendar.

More Simple Math (I Promise!)

Let's apply this concept to astrology and your natal chart.

There are 12 Zodiac signs.

Divide 360 by twelve and you get thirty.

Therefore, each zodiac sign takes up 30 degrees of the chart.

When you look at the key, you’ll notice that the planets are in a degree between zero and 30.