Aspects refer to the different angular configurations that transiting planets form with the planets in a given chart.  Those most often referred to are the Conjunction, Square, Opposition, Trine and Sextile.  The others, which   include but are not limited to the Semi-sextile, Quincunx, Semi-square and Sesquiquadrate, are included in the table to the right as well as below, are only used when more detail is required to understand a given chart.  This isn't to say that they're not as important, only that the more common aspects are usually sufficient.  Any major character trait or event usually has several indicators, making them hard to miss, and usually going to this level of detail isn't required.  Nonetheless, the less common aspects are very handy at explaining such things as the personality differences between twins and other traits that are not obvious or explained otherwise. 

The Orb refers to the allowable degrees on either side of exactness where an influence is still felt.

Aspects represent an energy exchange between the planets and other celestial bodies such as the Sun and Moon, which are frequently referred to planets in astrology for simplicity sake, even though astrologers are fully aware they are not technically a "planet."

Aspect Exact Angle Orb Description & Effect
Conjunction 0 degrees 8o, up to 10o for Sun & Moon This aspect occurs when two planets conjoin.  Its affect is a basic blending of the energies of the respective planets.  When a Full Moon or New Moon conjoins with a planet it can activate aspects tied to it in the Natal, Progressed or Return Charts that were previously dormant.  Its effect can be either positive or negative, depending on which planet and other existing aspects it encounters.
Square 90o 8o The square occurs when two planets are 90 degrees (or 3 signs) apart.  It precipitates a need for action, a struggle or something to be overcome and/or changed.  It is considered a harsh or negative aspect, but the final outcome depends on the motivation of the person and how they handle the challenge.  If handled properly, personal growth will result of a positive nature.
Opposition 180o 8o, up to 10o for Sun & Moon This aspect occurs, as it name implies, when two planets are 180 degrees (or 6 signs) apart.  A polarity is implied and often other people are involved.  Some sort of tension or tug-o-war is likely.  This aspect is considered negative.  When you're at Solar Opposition, i.e. six months from your birthday, be especially careful.  You're likely to be very accident-prone at this time.  If you don't believe me, check out what has happened to NASA during its Solar Opposition.
Trine 120o 8o A trine occurs when two planets are 120 degrees apart, which usually amounts to 4 signs apart.  It is generally interpreted as a soft or easy aspect with harmony implied.  However, if a person has nothing but trines in his chart, he could be inclined to be lazy or expect an easy life.  They would be lacking the motivation to overcome anything, which tends to result in character development.
Sextile 60o 6o This aspect occurs when planets are 60 degrees (or 2 signs) apart.  Its affect is similar but not as strong as a trine.  It is generally considered positive.  Some astrologers believe sextiles give talents in the areas indicated by the planet and house placements involved.
Semisquare 45o 2o Similar to a square but with more internal struggle.  It is also considered negative, but not as strong.  It will often represent an irritation, tension or some sort of friction between the planets and houses involved.
Quincunx 150o 2o, 3o with Sun & Moon Somewhat negative, a quincunx generally indicates an awkward situation that requires readjustment or one in which the person will have to defend their position on an issue.  The planets would be approximately 5 signs apart. 
Sesquare a.k.a. Sesquiquadrate 135o 2o Generally considered similar to a square and thus a negative aspect, but may be easier to release and express. 
Semi-Sextile 30o 2o Generally regarded as being a slightly negative aspect that can represent an annoyance or nuisance of some type.
 

Aspect Patterns

While most charts look like little more than a system of random lines, occasionally you can see a definite pattern.  One of the most common is called a T-Square (left), which looks like a red triangle involving three planets with one at the apex and the other two at the base.  Two planets will be in Opposition to one another with the third squared off with the other two.  While all these aspects are considered negative, it nonetheless seems to give strength to the individual as they overcome the tension and conflicts imposed.  Some charts have more than one. 

Another pattern that is easy to see in a chart is a Grand Trine, (below right) which shows up as a green equilateral triangle centered on the chart.  In most cases the points of the triangle will be in signs with a common Element, i.e. Air, Water, Earth or Fire signs, thus making it a Grand Air Trine, Grand Water Trine, etc.  While it would seem that having three trines joined together would be very positive, this is sometimes not the case as the person may lack balance in their life and thus understanding of others, making them perhaps lazy or judgmental, particularly if things come too easily for them, sparing them of taking on challenges that refine and strengthen the character.  They will not have as much incentive to broaden their reach or overcome the adversity indicated by T-squares. 

If there are two T-squares joined at the base, they then form what is known as a Grand Cross (left).  This shows up on the chart as an obvious red square with an "X" connecting the opposite corners.  This is a powerful influence, particularly because the planets will be located in the same modality, i.e. cardinal, fixed or mutable signs.  In other words, a Cardinal Grand Cross would involve planets in Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn; a Fixed Grand Cross would involve planets in Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio; and a Mutable Grand Cross would involve Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. 

Thus, there are a lot of similar characteristics being conveyed, yet there is still the square and opposition influence that introduces numerous conflicts.  Grand Crosses are fairly rare and generally denote a person who has numerous challenges and contradictions to deal with in their life.  The strength and degree of opposition will naturally also depend on which planets and houses are involved. Business consultant, Steven Gaffney, has described the challenges of this aspect perfectly when he said, "Most people will say that in retrospect their most difficult and challenging experiences were some of their most valuable ones. In fact, most people say that hard times generally produce much growth because responding to such times demands ingenuity. We all know that even when we are not responsible for our challenging circumstances, we are 100 percent responsible for our response to the challenge."

A fairly common pattern is a simple Sextile Pattern, (right) a small green triangle that combines two sextiles with a trine, tying three planets together in a fairly tight aspect with generally good implications, though these folks sometimes seem inclined to fall into a rut.  Sextile people usually have inborn abilities in the Houses affected by the pattern and are willing to work at developing these talents and skills.  If you look carefully at the T-Square and Grand Cross example, you'll see that they, also, have sextile patterns.

Another pattern that comes up occasionally is known as the Mystic Rectangle (left).   This pattern, as it name implies, creates a rectangle with a set of parallel sextiles linked to a set of parallel trines, tying four planets together.  Two modalities and two elements will be involved, linked in positive aspect.  However, if you look more closely you can see there are also two or more Oppositions involved from each of the diagonal corners.  This results in a blending of positive and negative effects that will depend on the planets and houses involved, but could also indicate a choice or decision is involved.  Both choices may be positive, but mutually exclusive. 

Another possibility would be that either choice will have a price that somewhat counters its benefits.  For example, you may find your dream home, but the mortgage will be slightly out of your comfort range or you are given an opportunity to take a much-wanted trip but don't have enough vacation time.  Perhaps you found a great deal on a 60 inch TV on Black Friday only to find out they don't stock 60 inch TV stands at the store and end up having to buy one that costs more than the TV.

A Triangle of Potential is another fairly common pattern that comprises a trine, sextile and opposition, in other words two soft aspects and one hard aspect.  In this case, the planet at the apex of the trine and sextile is the key to solving the opposition.  The person will experience struggles, but by utilizing the energy of the trine and sextile will be able to make them work, so to speak.  In many respects the hard aspects are what motivate us.  If life was always easy we'd have a lot less incentive to grow.  A Triangle of Potential will give a person just enough friction to utilize latent talents and abilities that otherwise might lie dormant.  [I've erased all aspects except the ToP from the illustration because otherwise it wouldn't be as easy to see as the others.]

A Yod is formed by two quincunx aspects to a single planet which are joined at the base by a sextile, making it look like a pointer.  The term originated with the engraved silver hand with the index finger pointing which is used in the Torah to mark where the last reading ended and the subsequent one is to take place.  It is also called the finger of God or the hand of fate.  Frequently these are seen where a person has a very specific ambition in life. 

For example, Ted Turner's Natal Chart (right) shows a yod, which clearly depicts his destiny as a major broadcasting magnate.  Note the base comprised of a sextile between Mercury in the 1st House (Sagittarius) and Mars in the 10th House (Libra) indicating his personal identity and community standing respectively.  Sagittarius, particularly as a Fire Sign, also implies long distance travel while Mercury signifies communications of all sorts.  Mars in the 10th House, in this case Libra, shows bold ambition that are furthered by positive relationships to achieve high regard by society.  The yod is nicely completed with the tip pointing to Uranus, planet of change, innovation and electronics, located in his 5th house of creativity which just happens to be Taurus, an Earth sign which often houses wealth. 

Interestingly enough, his wife, Jane Fonda (left), also has a yod in her chart, but with entirely different implications.  In her case, the sextiled base comprises the Sun in her 11th house of groups, which lies in philosophical Sagittarius and the god of war, Mars in her 1st house of rebellious  Aquarius.  These point to Pluto, god of the underworld and planet of transformation, on the cusp of her 7th House of relationships, which lies in Cancer.  While some of her fame is attributable to her work as an actress and fitness guru, this yod seems to imply her controversial activities as an antiwar activist in the 1960s.  If the apex of the Yod is the Sun, it generally indicates that the person will have to make a specific choice to follow a certain path in life, leaving the others forever behind, in order to fulfill their destiny.  In this case, the apex is Pluto, implying the transformation in the public eye of many from a young actress to an unsavory, controversial and even subversive individual which would darken her image for decades to come.

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