Whether you take astrology as gospel or simply see it as a fun source of entertainment, reading a daily horoscope is a regular part of so many people's routines. Some people use astrology apps for horoscopes, other people read theirs online or via social media, and others still may choose to keep things old school and flip to the horoscope section of a newspaper or magazine to get their fix. Astrology can be a wonderful tool to help us reflect on what's happening in our lives, feel more connected to the universe, and help us to glean a little bit of cosmic advice that might shed some light on the craziness that is life.
But with this many sources to choose from, it can be hard to know if the horoscope you're reading is accurate. Because, as is true with all things, it's important to not simply take everything we hear at face value. If you're putting even a sliver of trust into someone's interpretation of the planets and how they might affect you personally, then it's good to feel confident in knowing how to properly read your horoscope. You want to be sure there's some actual astrological knowledge behind the cosmic forecast you're reading.
That said, here are some insider tips on how to tell if the horoscope you're reading is legit — and what red flags to look for when it comes to ensuring you get an accurate astrological scoop. Because if you're putting your faith in the stars, you've got to hit a trusted source.
Consider The Source & The Tone
Start by checking out who's writing the horoscope you're reading. Are they a professional astrologer or astrology writer? Do they regularly write about astrological transits and how they affect people? If so, then that's a good sign, as it shows they have a background in studying astrology and some solid experience when it comes to interpreting the planets' influence on us. It's also worth peeking at what sources they're referencing or who they're interviewing — and perhaps even cross-checking with other trusted sources to make sure the things they're asserting seem accurate and sensible.
You should also consider the tone of your 'scope. If someone is speaking in extremes or making wild and intense predictions, you might want to turn your attention elsewhere. Horoscope are super generalized peeks at what overarching cosmic forces might be affecting you at a given time, so it's not realistic to think that hyper-specific or overly-grandiose claims are valid. It's one thing to note that you'll have good luck on your side, but it's quite another to tell you that you might win the lottery.
Remember, though, that astrology is an interpretive art — so while certain astrological aspects do mean certain things, when an astrologer looks at a cosmic snapshot on the whole, one might choose to highlight a particular energy over another. That's the beauty of reading horoscopes: They're all a little different, and it doesn't necessarily mean one is more legit.
Look For Details About The Planets
"When it comes to reading horoscopes, the number one thing to notice is if they mention any specific astrological aspects," astrologer Narayana Montúfar tells Bustle. This is important because that's literally what astrology is: The study of the planets and the interpretation of their movements and interactions affect us. Astrological aspects, or planetary aspects, refer to the relationships that the planets form with each other based on their current placement in the zodiac chart — and looking at these connections is what informs the horoscopes that an astrologer writes. Seeing a breakdown of what's actually happening in the stars (along with what it means) is a good sign that you're reading the work of someone knowledgeable.
"Of course it's possible to write a horoscope without mentioning what the planets are doing, but generally, horoscopes mention the planetary connections that are affecting a specific sun sign at any given time," Montúfar says. "Without that, the horoscope would need to be very vague, and it would be hard to explain how to handle or make use of the current planetary energies."
That said, astrology is a very complex art, so some astrologers will certainly choose to simplify things for people who don't have a major background in it. It's up to you to choose whether you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the planetary action in your preferred horoscope source or if you just want to know whether it's a good day to ask out your crush. Either way is a-OK.
Read For Your Rising Sign & Your Sun Sign
Before you write off a horoscope for not being legit, you'll need to make sure you're reading for the right sign — because believe it or not, you may need to read for a different one than you think. "If something feels a little off [with your sun sign's horoscope], then you may want to try your ascendant sign," astrologer Lisa Stardust tells Bustle. "If that resonates more with your inner sentiments, then that’s the one you should pick." Your rising zodiac sign, which is also known as your ascendant, is a point in your astrological chart that represents your outer, forward-facing self — and interestingly, most horoscopes are tailored to your rising sign, and not your sun sign.
"For me, I resonate more with my ascendant ‘scope, but sometimes my sun sign is right on and exact," Stardust says. "The best thing to do is to read them both, then suss things out. Being that it can switch at any time, keep an open mind and see which one you’re vibing with on that day." The sun in astrology is still a super significant part of your birth chart, so sun sign horoscopes are often accurate — but it's definitely worth it to calculate your rising sign and read your horoscope for that, too, as you might find it makes more sense for you.
But Most Importantly: Do You Vibe With The Advice?
You can research the astrologer writing your horoscope, check the 'scopes for planetary lingo, and read for your sun, moon, and rising sign if you'd like — but none of these tips are worth a thing if you don't actually vibe with what your horoscope is telling you. A horoscope is supposed to be relatable, as well as offer up some helpful, sensible, and constructive advice. There's much more to astrology than just the 12 zodiac personality types that dominate the astrology meme scene, but horoscopes boil things down to 12 archetypal interpretations for ease, and every astrologer will have their own style. You're bound to connect with some over others, so trust your gut.
That said, if there's a particular source for horoscopes that consistently offers up advice and interpretations that resonate with you and make sense, then by all means, consider it a decent source. This is an ancient art, not a hard science, so take from it what feels right and don't worry too much about the rest.