The planets explained

A guide by motivational astrologer GiGi Sosnoski

The sun

Everyone knows their sun sign – these are the 12 classic signs of the zodiac – but often not what the sun actually represents in your astrology chart. The sun rules your will, your ego, your vitality, your leadership ability, your sense of identity and your creative life force.

Many believe it also represents our true purpose in this life. It signifies your ability to express yourself as an individual and where you can shine. Where the sun is positioned in your astrology chart (based on your date, time and place of birth), lets us know the areas of life where you can sparkle!

It is influenced also by the astrological connection your sun makes to the other planets and points in your chart, so again, it is unique to YOU! One person’s Aries sun is not necessarily like anyone else’s.

It takes approximately one month for the sun to change zodiac signs. Leo is the zodiac sign ruled by the sun – epitomising all that glorious vibrancy with natural-born leadership and charisma. 

The moon

The moon in your chart lets us know how you feel, how you react, what you need for your emotional security in life. It represents our nurturing urge, emotions, instincts, moods, receptivity, feelings. It’s all about our emotional and instinctual energies and how we express these. 

The sign your moon is in (based on your date, time and place of birth) and where it’s located in your chart shows where you are emotionally invested and where you seek comfort and security.

The moon can also show issues surrounding our mothers, home, family and upbringing. Where the sun in your chart acts, the moon in your chart reacts. It takes about two and a half days for the moon to change zodiac signs. The moon governs the sign of Cancer, characterised by sensitivity – Cancers tend to be loyal souls, with a nurturing nature.

New moon

New moons are like new year resolutions. We get a chance to start again! When we have a new moon (once a month), it signals beginnings and is the go-ahead for us to implement our plans, projects, dreams and to manifest the things we want for our future.

It is an auspicious time for initiating events. Where the new moon is moving through your astrology chart gives us a great deal of information on how it will affect you.

There is a different sign each month for each new moon, offering us insight into how we can best use the new moon energy. The next new moons to work with are 12 April and 12 May in New Zealand. There are loads of suggestions for performing new moon rituals to help you focus on your goals – Google “Oprah Daily new moon rituals” for an extensive list.

Full moon

Astrologically, the sun and the moon are in opposition on a full moon. Around the full moon (occurring once a month), things tend to come to a head. Full moons are times of culmination. Things are somewhat emotional, there are deep feelings and restlessness.

Anytime we come into the full moon, that is your celestial signal to release what no longer is supportive, helpful or desirable for you to move forward. It’s a good time to weed out, let go and release negative energy.

Each month the full moon is in a different sign, which gives us different energies to work with.


Mercury is the planet that rules all travel, communications, movement, interactions and thought processes. Where Mercury is located in your personal astrology chart tells us about your intellectual urge, how you express yourself, your reasoning ability and your awareness.

It represents knowledge, information, your nervous system and shows where and how you best communicate. Mercury takes about two weeks to change signs but goes retrograde three to four times a year. Both the quick-witted, loquacious Gemini and analytical, observant Virgo are ruled by Mercury. 

Mercury retrograde

Mercury retrograde is usually known for communication mishaps, travel delays, mechanical breakdowns or a time of flux. This “backward” motion occurs three to four times a year. But I don’t believe it is something to be feared.

A Mercury retrograde period can be an advantageous time to re-focus on our plans, thoughts and self-expression. It’s a good occasion to consider what needs reworking, re-creating or improving in our lives. Use the retrograde cycle to release what’s no longer valid and open instead to new possibilities.

As for the usual retrograde reminders: be prudent when it comes to agreements, contracts, negotiations, travel arrangements and your interactions. Change is in the air, so allow extra time, double-check details, be patient and most of all, be kind to yourself and others and keep harmonious feeling flowing forward! 


Venus rules love, pleasure, creative expression, our values and relationships. We look to Venus in our charts to understand how we view intimacy and our attachment to others.

From the position of our Venus, we can learn about how, who and why we love. It is our social urge, all things regarding art, beauty, charm and how we attract others. It can show where there is harmony, appreciation, joy and bounty in our lives.

It can also represent finances. The cycle of Venus is four to five weeks to change signs and Venus goes retrograde every 18 months. Both stable, sensualist Taurus and beauty-loving, charmer Libra are ruled by Venus. 


Mars represents energy, action, desire – it is the warrior planet! It shows how we express anger and aggression, our survival instinct and our vitality. Where it is located in our chart tells us about our drive, the assertion of our will, force, power and competitive edge.

It highlights where we direct our energies and how we express our temperament. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars symbolises the get-going, get-it-done, get-ahead focus in our lives. Mars takes six to seven weeks to change signs and retrogrades every two years. It governs the fiery, go-getting sign of Aries. 


Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, represents benevolence, optimism, growth and prosperity. It rules areas of expansion in our lives and our aspirations, philosophy, religion and higher-minded awareness.

In our charts it can indicate where we can find enrichment, luck, good fortune and growth. In general it can represent ease, sometimes indulgence or laziness, but mostly the appreciation of joy and plenty in our life! Jupiter takes about 12 to 13 months to change signs and goes retrograde each year for about 120 days. Jupiter governs the freedom-loving, truth-seeking sign of Sagittarius.


Saturn is a somewhat serious planet. It rules hard work, discipline, responsibility and sometimes challenges. It lets us know where there may be restrictions, limitations or a need for more patience and resilience.

But although Saturn usually gets a bad rap, it is an important planet, as it can represent our ambitions and efforts paying off. It seeks stability, structure and security – it wants to do things by the book, be detailed, punctual and conscientious. It can be the teacher, the authority figure. Where Saturn is in our chart can show where our ambition lies and how we can triumph over challenges.

Saturn takes approximately two and a half years to move through each sign. It goes retrograde each year for about 140 days. Saturn governs the wise and responsible sign of Capricorn. 


Uranus is a quirky planet. It’s tilted so far on its axis that it basically orbits the sun on its side! It represents the bohemian side of ourselves – it rules rebellion, innovation, dynamic change and doing things in its own time and in its own way.

It also symbolises technology, all things progressive and futuristic, the unexpected, disruptions, out-of-the-box thinking and new discoveries. Where Uranus is in your chart shows us where you might have unique talents or abilities.

A strong Uranus in a chart can also indicate someone who is eccentric or is a nonconformist or likes to do things for shock value. Uranus takes about seven years to move through each sign and goes retrograde every year for around 150 days. Aquarius is the individualistic sign connected to Uranus. 


Neptune is the planet representing our dreams, intuition and mysticism. It also rules spiritual enlightenment, creative and artistic inspirations and our imaginations. Neptune can also show areas of our lives where deception, disillusionment or apathy can occur.

It’s mysterious, has difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality and can express itself in vague or “otherworldly” ways. Neptune epitomises poets, painters, musicians and dreamers and their escapist tendencies.

It has an affinity for nature, holistic pursuits, the sea and secrets. Neptune takes about 14 years to move through each sign and goes retrograde every year for around 150 days. Pisces is the imaginative, creative sign connected with Neptune.


Pluto, our outermost planet, takes 14-30 years to move through each sign and goes retrograde each year for about 185 days. Pluto is all about transformation. It is the phoenix rising from the ashes!

Pluto represents metamorphosis, rebirth, major shifts. Pluto is a very powerful part of our charts and represents issues of power, control, destruction in order to create and regeneration. It’s aligned with the intense and mysterious sign of Scorpio, which reminds us that to bring about change, we must let go of the past.

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