Beyond Binary Wikia

Chart house divisions depicted as hours of the day corresponding to the sun's path. The Ascendant is the 'sunrise' position: 6:00 AM (the Eastern horizon).

Given someone's birthdate you know most of their signs with some degree of confidence (cusps on this day bring uncertainty), but knowing the birthdate does not help narrow down the Ascendant whatsoever - you need the birth time. Hence, for people who don't know their time of birth or for people trying to guess a person's Ascendant based on their known birthday, a few tricks are needed. This page will document my experiences and findings.

NB: (added Dec-2016) this is called "chart rectification" and there's an amazing online app here:

Main Idea


There are actually some statistical factors that can help marginally, since people are more likely to be born in the day (6am->6pm) than the night (6pm-6am)[1]. This is a very weak effect though, and shouldn't be used as an early resort.


The sign of the midheaven will always be determined by the Ascendant. The midheaven will be of the same Quality as the ascendant (Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable), but it's element will be one forward in the order (Fire->Earth->Air->Water->Fire). Hence, Leo rising has a Taurus midheaven.

By reading descriptions of both the Ascendants that seem reasonable and the implied midheavens, your guesses can be strengthened a lot. AlwaysAstrology has a great resource for Midheavens.

Moon Sign:

If the moon passes through a cusp on the day in question, then the birth time can be narrowed down if one of the two moon signs can be ruled out based on their personality traits. For example if a birth chart with 12pm (noon) as the time says their moon sign is in Capricorn but close to the Sagittarius cusp, and your experience of the person's emotions strongly suggests they are a Sagittarius moon, then this implies that they were born before 12pm (since Sagittarius is before Capricorn). Tracing back in time until the moon is in Sagittarius can then start to narrow down the range of Ascendants that are possible.


Based on how you perceive this person's outward persona, you might be able to rule several signs out straight away. Self-focussed person? = Probably not a water-sign Ascendant. Perceived as being shy? = probably not a fire-sign Ascendant. Perceived as being lazy? = Probably not an earth-sign Ascendant. Perceived as uncommunicative? = Probably not an air-sign Ascendant.

Similarly, but in inverse, you might find that you see a certain sign beaming from a person, but then find that it is completely lacking from their chart, in which case you might feel strongly inclined to assume this as their ascendant and use other methods to verify.


If you have a chart with a clear emphasis in one small section, then you might be able to narrow down the possible ascendants by reference to hemispheres:

"In short, people with emphasis on the top half of the chart are public, the lower half of the chart are inevitably more private. Emphasis on the eastern hemisphere indicates someone more independent and assertive then someone with emphasis on the western hemisphere who tends to be a team player."[2]

North Node:

Once you have done the simpler steps, looking at their North node might be a good place to start with the deeper search, because it is one of the most detail-rich elements of a person's chart despite being very slow-moving (changes sign every 1.8 years or so). Tables can be found at CafeAstrology.

Once you know the sign of their north node, you can reflect on how this fits in with their personality as you perceive it. The next step will be to see how this soul-mission codified in their north node actually plays out in their life - that is, in which area of life (House) does this tension most demonstrate itself. AstroFix have a series of articles for each sign position explaining how it manifests when in each of the 12 houses, which is extremely helpful and illucidating.

Once you have found a couple of choices that seem to fit, these will imply certain Ascendant signs. For example if the North Node is in Aquarius and the 7th house description fits best, then this implies that the 7th house cusp is either in Aquarius or in Capricorn, which implies the Ascendant is 6 signs back (1st house cusp) and hence is either Leo or Cancer. Reading descriptions of each of these Ascendants can then narrow down whether either of these is a suitable fit for the native in question.


Other planets in the houses can then really back up your first feeling. A good site listing the meaning of each planet in the 12 houses is Particular planets that might be easy to start with are Mars and the Sun, which tell us what areas of life the person's actions are directed and their self-image derived. By combining these two, you can eliminate a lot of possibilities. For example, you might find that a Sun in the 3rd or 8th house both fit this person quite well, but then if their chart shows their natal Mars is three signs ahead of their sun, this implies their Mars in the 6th or 11th house, you might check these descriptions and find that only one of them resonates, hence narrowing your choice down.

An easy system might be to look specifically for planets that relate to the most obvious features of the person (e.g. Yang planets for an extravert, Yin planets for an introvert) and specifically look for conjunctions or oppositions, since these will have obvious house relationships (same house for conjunct planets or 6 houses apart for opposite planets).


More than any other placement, the Ascendant is said to affect a person's appearance and style the most (see Facial Astrology). Hence, you might use AstroTheme's search tool to look at celebrities with the same Sun and Moon as your target (as well as the same gender, if you like), and then scroll through to compare their faces to your target and see which Ascendant gives the best match.

Alternatively, if you have a strong guess for the ascendant, you might search all three and check the faces of the results for confirmation. Having Sun, Moon and Ascendant all the same, in my experience, has shown incredible likeness - provided the ethnicity of your target doesn't bring facial features that complicate the comparison too much.

Case Studies

Tomi Lahren:

(see Tomi Lahren#Astrology)

Based on her birth details Lahren's moon sign is either Capricorn or Aquarius, while her rising sign could be any of the 12 possibilities. For example, if Lahren is born between 00:00 and 00:53 (GMT-7), then she is a Gemini-rising with a Capricorn moon (H7 or H8), whereas if she is born between 23:00 and 23:59:59, then she is a Gemini-rising with an Aquarius moon.

The only other rising sign compatible with both of Lahren's potential moon signs is Libra-rising, since the moon changed signs on this day at 09:07 (GMT-7) and the time from 08:32 to 11:08 corresponded to a local rising sign in Libra.

Hence, all other ascendants have a single valid corresponding moon sign and can be used to help narrow the range of possibilities.

If Lahren is a Capricorn moon then her possible Rising Signs are:

whereas, if Lahren is an Aquarius moon, then her possible Rising Signs are:

Comparative Astrology

By comparing Lahren's known personality traits and facial features to other Leo suns with either Capricorn moon or Aquarius moon:

From these, it seems more likely that Tomi is indeed a Capricorn moon, displaying more of a hardened emotional resilience than typical of the more erratic Aquarius moon.


This person's chart for 12pm is already highly bunched, so there may be some easier tricks than the NN trick to use here. All the planets besides Pluto and Jupiter are within about 2 houses!

Such a dense area of the chart should make finding the Ascendant easy, since one area of their life is clearly getting a lot more significance than others, but it's a bit hard to know where to start now. Unfortunately, this person's NN is directly on a cusp, making it a bit less tempting to use. However, the more I think about it the more I feel that the dense focus isn't so easy to interpret, because each planet can bring different things to these areas and it's not so simple as to say that the cluster will occur in the area of life that the native focuses most on, as they might actually focus more on their empty areas to compensate.

Instead, I will look at the person's Mars and Sun (near conjunct) and see which house positions for each planet overlap in terms of describing the person well. Sun: 1, 2, 3, 4, (hmmm..) this isn't working so well, perhaps elimination is better. I will list the houses I don't think fit?..

Hmm... now I'm feeling a bit unmotivated, I think there's a better approach. This bunching is very extreme and forms a pattern known as a Wedge[3], particularly because the outer planets (Mercury and Jupiter) on either side form a trine, enclosing the rest of the bunch. This creates a lot of tension in the chart, that seeks to resolve itself through the native becoming focussed on the opposite side of the chart, the hypothetical third point of the non-existent grand trine. In this case, that gives this person a strong drive towards Cancer traits, which I really can see in my experience with them.


Based on the descriptions of the hemispheres by ElsaElsa[2] I would think that a north-eastern focus is likely for this wedge, since this person is quite public and independent. However, since they have a strong Aquarius emphasis already, its hard to know whether a north-eastern focus is necessary to explain these traits...

In any case, I have to start somewhere and this is the best start I have so far. To have Aquarius in their north-eastern quadrant (houses 1-3) this person should have an Ascendant in signs (9-11) Capricorn, Aquarius or Pisces. However, because this is only a rough direction, it's best not to rule this down to 3 signs, instead 6 is probably wiser. Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus. So now the Zodiac has been halved, with signs pointing to an Aries Ascendant. Now, I have strong reasons to believe that the person's Ascendant is not in Pisces or Taurus, so Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Aries stand out as potential suspects.

Now, I can use this starting point to go back and use previous details to narrow down further.

Since Aquarius contains this person's Sun, Mars and Venus there is a fair chance that all three will be in the same house (all within 15 degrees, which is about half the size of a house). If they are north-eastern in nature, then this implies Aquarius in houses 1-3, but let's check the surrounding houses also (11,12,4,5) and see which ones best resonate with Sun, Mars and Venus. Sun in 12 seems unlikely, all others are plausible. Mars in 11 and 3 work well, 12, 4 and 5 don't fit well. Venus 3 and 4 work well, 12 is unlikely. So, based on this house 3 looks best, while house 12 is unlikely. These correspond to this person being likely to be a Sagittarius rising and unlikely to be a Taurus rising (validating earlier feeling).

North node:

At this stage, I feel looking at the north node should be helpful. I have a strong sense the person's Ascendant is from Sagittarius to Aries, excluding pisces. Their north node is in Scorpio (Sag cusp) and hence this is likely to be in the 12th/1st house for Sagittarius rising, or the 8th/9th house for Aries rising, with the middle implying 10th/11th house for Aquarius rising. So looking at the north node in Scorpio through the houses, specifically focussing on houses 8-12 (and 1) should help me finalise my guess.

Unfortunately not much luck here. I think the biggest problem is that while I do know this person well, I only know the side of them that I see, and so much of this relies on facets of them that are probably only known by the native themself, since they are not very emotionally aware (Uranian).

Fullest house:

In any case, I think there's a simpler way to go (albeit less certain). I have ruled it down to 4 likely suspects (Sag, Cap, Aqr, Ars), each then implies a certain house for the Sun-Mars-Venus trio, these houses also imply a certain Zodiac characteristic (i.e. house 10 is Capricornian, house 1 is Arian, etc) so I can just judge how well the sign of each house fits this person and call it a day. The four likely ascendants (S,C,Aq,Ar) imply the trio as: (Gemini/Taurus, Taurus/Aries, Aries/Pisces and Aquarius/Capricorn). Out of these combinations, I can see all being possible, but focussing on the first ones (Gem, Tau, Ars, Aqr) since the second ones apply to late-Ascendants (and I think this person has a strong Ascendant = early in the sign = strong persona), then I would say that Gemini seems unlikely. The best fit seems Aquarius/Capricorn implying an Aries Ascendant, but it's hard to narrow down between these final options.


Each Ascendant implies a certain midheaven, also. The four ascendants (S, C, Aq, Ar) imply (Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Capricorn)... "Libra Midheaven excels at teamwork with a capital T."[4] (this doesn't fit this person well). "Those born with a Midheaven in Virgo have the courage to honestly look deep into themselves and use what they learn as a guide."[5] (This doesn't fit well either) Scorpio midheaven fits very well. Capricorn midheaven also fits, but some parts don't quite describe this person as they are now - perhaps as they grow older. This implies that the ascendant is Aquarius or Aries.

Moon sign:

Overall, after reading some about each rising sign, I'm leaning away from Capricorn now.[6]

The 12pm Ascendant gives Aries, meaning that Aquarius and Sagittarius would need to be earlier than 12pm, Sagittarius would need to have been in the very early hours of the morning (less likely). Also, the moon sign is Capricorn at 12pm, but is likely to move into Sagittarius if the Ascendant is in Sag. The moon sign of Capricorn describes this person well, hence I think that Sagittarius isn't so likely (also the lack of desire to travel is a giveaway). Hence I narrow it down to Aries and Aquarius (supporting the midheaven analysis above).

Final thoughts:

Overall, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I think I have narrowed this person down to one of two Ascendants quite well, but from here it's a bit hard to separate at my current level of skill.

I think if I look at north node again and some others, focussing on my two options now, I can probably lean more to one than the other, but I have spent a lot of time on this now, haha. Kind of want to finish though, which is why I have been spending so much time... screw it, let's try. It'd be pretty impressive if I guessed this person's time of birth correctly and could maybe convince them that Astrology is real if I did it within +/- 1 hour (1/12 chance by random choice).

North node in Scorpio the 10th house is described by as:

"Becoming passionately involved in the uses and abuses of power in the outer world. Getting off your duff and making a difference in the world. No longer sitting on the comfy couch in your pajamas watching TV. No more “from the comfort of your own home.” Challenging yourself to learn about the power of authority. Allowing yourself to challenge authority – and your parents. Releasing an attachment to the status quo of how things are supposed to be done. Getting out of your comfortable private life to see what else is going on in the world. No longer being afraid to lose your home, your roots or your stability as you actively tangle with the outside world. Knowing that you have an inner reservoir of calm to draw upon when the world outside shifts into crisis. Getting intimately involved in the crisis of the larger world. Finding your source of power to make a difference. Becoming concerned with the kind of reputation you create based on your use or abuse of power. Learning how to hold a position of power, authority and control. Becoming seen as a person who is probing, difficult or mysterious – even if that makes you uncomfortable. Allowing yourself to rock the boat in your profession. Allowing yourself to be seen as having power. No longer playing it safe. Allowing yourself to cultivate an edgier, sexier, more confrontational public persona. Dealing with power struggles with your parents. Dealing with your deep desire to have a career that gives more than material security. Embracing a difficult, and possibly unpopular, profession."

This is definitely the best description in the list and correlates with an Aquarius Ascendant. Pa

An Aquarius ascendant would then imply that the Sun-Mars-Venus trio is most likely in House I, but since Mars precedes the other two, it is possible the Ascendant cusp divides Aquarius between Mars and the Sun-Venus duo, leaving Mars in XII (AstroTheme says: "With Mars in the 12th House, the sense of danger is not part of the arsenal of your qualities. You do not hesitate to take action even though you do not know clearly where you are heading for." - this definitely fits).

This leads me to choose 6 am as the final birth time for this person, corresponding to an Aquarius ascendant. If I am wrong, then my second guess would be quite confident that it is around 11am for an Aries ascendant. If both are wrong, then I have wasted a lot of time, but will learn from the mistakes and document them here.


I chose to look at the north node (NN) first. People born around the same time as me have NN in Aquarius. Astrofix's list for Aquarius in the houses show a couple that fit this person well, mainly 5, 6, 8,

Later: looked through some faces with this sun and moon. Since this person's sun was a cusp I used the "advanced" option on AstroTheme and chose the 29th degree of the early sign and did a 8 degree orb to allow for celebrities born within ~8 days either side. Didn't get any clear results, but the Ascendant I am leaning towards based on instincts (Aries) didn't have many results for my search and the main result was an old man with a funny nose (not an Aries rising trait, probably genetic).

Aries rising would imply a strong southern hemisphere emphasis (this person has a huge bucket, Jupiter vs every other planet), which fits since this person is not self-absorbed. It also implies a slight west bias, which also fits since that implies dependence rather than independence, which is my experience of this person. It would also imply a 10th house sun (which fits from what I just read).

Unfortunately, Aries Ascendant doesn't line up with the (5,6,8,) I wrote above for the north node (implies 10/11) but I don't think I had finished reading at the time, so I will do that now (unfortunately the site is now gone, but luckily I cached it and saved the files). It turns out that NN in house X actually fits very well, although I still find House V to also be very, very accurate too. Aquarius in House V would probably imply Leo or Virgo rising, neither of which really suit this person (nor the adjacent signs). Hence I am feeling quite confident in Aries rising now (though I guess a process of elimination always makes one feel confident, even when you have made an error, because you never feel you have).

NN in the tenth implies a fairly late Aries Ascendant (which fits, since this person isn't too fiery), and a birth time just after midday.

Sidenote: this person is an ESTJ-A personality type.

1903 notes: Think NN on IC (house 4) makes sense, with Pluto in H12 and late Scorpio-rising (~6:15pm).


Same NN so also looked. Finding that 10 (Acting independently of family opinion) and 12 (letting your intelligence +progressive views shine through) fit nicely, implying Pisces/Aquarius or Taurus/Aries for the Ascendant, respectively. I don't see this person as having Aries or Aquarius as Ascendant (they are seen as an introverted person), so I am left to decide between a Pisces or Taurus Ascendant.

Later: I looked at this person's birth chart again and realised it's all Yin signs, yet this person would definitely be described as quite analytical. Hence, I was lead to conclude that their Ascendant is Air. Upon looking up the three air Ascendants I felt that Aquarius rising actually fit best for a number of reasons. Looking back here and seeing that it was on my shortlist (before I dismissed it crudely) I am more confident.

I also performed a search on AstroTheme for this person's Sun in Taurus and Moon in Cancer combination, and found that the celebrities that came up did bear quite a strong likeness to this person. The best matches were Gemini and Aquarius rising. though I think the Aquarius rising is the best (the Red Baron).

To verify. I will first check that the implied Midheaven fits. Aquarius rising (usually) implies Scorpio midheaven or Sagittarius Midheaven. Scorpio midheaven fits very well and even guessed the correct career on the page I read, Sagittarius MC also works, though it's less likely. The north node in the 12th house (in Aquarius) narrows down the Ascendant position to late Aquarius, implying some Pisces overlap (which would fit well) and hence I guess that this person was born around 3:30AM.

For further verification I went through the implied house positions of the major planets and saw that they all seemed like fair descriptions of some aspects of this person's personality. I wouldn't say I'm confident with this overall, but it certainly is the best answer I can picture by quite a fair margin (that is to say, that any other Ascendant would surprise me quite a bit and would take some convincing before I accepted).


Was reading about Sagittarius traits and suddenly realised a guy I hang out with occasionally was a textbook Sag. The travel, the need to escape/expand, the sociability, the charming confidence, etc.

I checked his birthday on facebook and saw he was a Gemini, which didn't throw me, because Gemini is the sign that is the most diverse I think, and hence the Ascendant and Moon signs tend to over-ride the mild traits of a Gemini usually. Hence, I was immediately confident he was Sag rising or at least Sag moon, possibly both. So then knowing the year he was born I got a rough birth chart and saw his moon was in Virgo.

Virgo moon actually fit quite well, so that wasn't surprising, but then his Mercury, Mars and Venus weren't in Sagittarius either. Only his Saturn and Uranus were, which don't particularly feed into someone's outward personality so much. So at this stage I know that if I'm right about the Sag traits (and I really feel it strongly), then I think I know he must have been born around 4pm, and can check this with him (if I can ask without sounding crazy) to verify.

To narrow down the time even more, I used the natal Saturn in Sagittarius and read about Ascendant conjunct Saturn on which actually fit my knowledge of his journey quite well.

This is a rare case, but is worth noting that sometimes the Ascendant will jump out at you because it's the only sign left to explain some obvious traits from a particular sign.