What the hell orb should I use? And when? And why?

**I know this post deviates quite a bit from the out of bounds stuff I was talking about last week. I’m not through there at all, but the topic of orbs has come up many times on the forums that I creep on (and answer questions), and it struck me that this would make a good post.**

What is an orb exactly you may be asking? An orb is how close together planets are in aspect in a natal chart (or any kind of chart, really). Why are they important? The tighter the orb between two planets, the more that particular energy may manifest in the person’s life. Which ones to look at first? I generally like to look at the orbs between the aspects made by the luminaries and the chart ruler (ruler of the Ascendant) first. An example of an aspect’s orb from my own chart can be found in the pictures below. In the first picture, circled in purple, you can see the conjunction between Pluto and Mercury in Scorpio in the 11th at about a 5 degree or so orb. The second picture is of the different aspects in the chart. You will notice next to the little symbols in the boxes there is also a number. That number is the orb between the aspects.

In purple: Conjunction between Pluto and Mercury at a 5 degree or so orb in Scorpio in the 11th.
In Black: You can see where the Pluto and Mercury conjunction appears, with the orb “5”

Different astrologers have different ways of reading charts and reading the orbs made between planetary aspects. Some use a 10 degree orb across the board, and some use a slightly larger orb or slightly more narrow orb all the time. Some open that orb up somewhat for certain planets and narrow it some for others. I tend not to think anyone is wrong in this regard; it really all comes from personal experience and what just “feels” right to the astrologer. For me personally, it does depend on the feel of the entire chart somewhat, but I do have some “guidelines” that I generally follow. They are as follows (for a Natal Chart):

No.1 – I tend to go by the 10 degree orb rule for aspects between the planets, luminaries, and Chiron. This has just always felt right to me personally. Every once in a while I *may* open this orb just a touch if the luminaries are involved in some capacity, but then I will only usually open it to 12 degrees. Also, when I open this orb slightly, this part of the chart really needs to be “speaking” to me in someway, for some reason.
No.2-For aspects made to the North and South Nodes by the planets and Chiron, I really don’t like to go above a 5 or 6 degree orb. This is because the North and South Nodes aren’t even real celestial bodies but hypothetical points.
No.3– For asteroid aspects, regardless of what the asteroid is making an aspect with, I really like to keep these even tighter, usually in the 3 degree range (though depending on what planetary body is involved, this orb may end up widened to 4 or 5 degrees).
No.4-For me to count a fixed star aspect, regardless of what the fixed star is making an aspect with, these orbs have to be really fucking tight, like an orb 1 – 1 1/2 degrees (maybe 2 degrees if the connection seems really outstanding due to other factors in the chart). This is because fixed stars don’t move around and are always found in the same location in everyone’s chart. An example is Algol, which is always at 26 Taurus.
No.5-As far as orbs having to do with a Stellium (and what a Stellium is), I have another post on this for your reading pleasure.

I also have a few different guidelines for different types of charts, as you will see below:
**For Transit Charts, I do use the same guidelines for orbs listed above for the Natal Chart, but I use them slightly differently. For planet to planet connections, I use the 5 degrees before the transit planet becomes in exact aspect with the natal planet (ascending), and the 5 degrees after becoming exact (descending). For example, if you have your natal Moon at 20 Libra, transit Pluto would be considered to be in opposition anywhere from 15 to 25 Aries. And with the transits, the more exact the orb, the more the particular transit will be felt (usually).
**For Synastry Charts, I use the same ascending and descending orb mentioned above, but I really like synastry aspects to be a little tighter. I usually will only go to a 10 degree orb with the luminaries, around 7-8 degrees for the planets and Chiron, with the Nodes, Asteroids, and Fixed Stars remaining the same.
**For the Composite Chart (midpoint method), I really like to see even tighter aspects (since this chart is based off of the midpoints between both people’s charts). For the luminaries I usually try to keep it an 8 degree orb, and for the planets and Chiron I try to stay around a 5 or 6 degree orb. I like to keep the aspects made to the Nodes at 4 to 5 degrees. With fixed stars, I really want them between a 0 and 1 degree orb, and for asteroids, around 2 degrees is good with me.
**I tend to keep the aspect’s orbs the same as the Natal Chart ones when reading Draconic Charts…..since it is essentially a type of natal chart itself, just the chart of the soul across all incarnations (in this dimension, in this plane. I won’t go into what I mean about that right now. That’s another post for another day). For even more reading pleasure, here is my post on Draconic Charts.

Just thought I’d throw my own hat in the ring on this subject. What rules for orbs do you personally go by, and why?