Astrology FAQ's

About the Dates Signs Begin

Contrary to general belief, there is no standard date on which each sign begins. Unlike New Year, which is midnight, December 31st, every year, the star signs begin at different hours and, sometimes, on different dates. These are linked to the seasons. Aries, for example, begins at the same moment as spring (in the northern hemisphere), Libra coincides with autumn. For example, in 2013, Libra began on 22 September at 23:02 GMT but in 2014, it commences on 23rd at 02:29 GMT.
Because I frequently mention the dates on which the Sun and planets change signs in my columns, I adjust the dates on each sign’s heading to coincide with the day on which the Sun changes signs during the current year.
These changes also apply to an individual’s star sign, whatever the year of birth.
Those who are on the edge of a sign, which is often referred to as being “on the cusp,” can easily determine their actual star sign by having a computerised personal chart calculated according to their own birth date, place and time – often even an approximate time will do. This can be done through many chart services on the internet, including my own website:


About Birth Times
You ask about obtaining your birth time in order to have your astrological chart done.
First, it’s important that you are aware that a chart based on your place and date and year of birth alone can prove extraordinarily informative.

However, it’s always worth checking every possible source for information on the birth time before having a chart done. The process of obtaining recorded birth information varies according to the country of birth. In countries where the birth hour is not a matter of legal record, such as England, the only other resource is family members or friends who might recall when they were told about the birth, even their responses give only an approximate birth time. Often when pressed, people will remember things in surprising detail, more than when first asked. This can prove very helpful, as it can narrow the time range down to a matter of hours.

In the United States the policy varies from state to state. However, by and large birthtimes are recorded on the actual birth certificate, as is the case in most European countries.

What is my birthstone?

Birthstones are powerful. They symbolise the heavenly bodies, the Sun, Moon and planets. Each sign is linked to not one, but several stones. These date back to the beginning of planetary observation. Those observing the movements of the planets began to want their energy to use, so called on it by wearing stones of the colour of the planet. 

Because the stones were based on the colour of the planet said to rule each sign, there is no single stone for any sign. Thus, the stones for Aries (ruled by the red planet Mars) were red – coral, ruby, etc. Those for Cancer, ruled by the Moon, were – obviously – the soft, milky stones such as moonstone, pearls and milky quartzes.

They were valued for their healing power, and therefore prescribed by astrologer/doctors depending on the individual’s chart and requirements. This still applies in India & Hong Kong, where individuals are regularly instructed to wear particular gems (not necessarily their birth stone) to compensate for a planetary influence.

In 1912 the American Gemological Society decided to change get rid of the traditional stones that. This is because some of these (jet for Capricorn, for example) didn’t glitter prettily in the jewellery case, so wouldn’t sell. 

Bizarrely, they chose to use the stones listed in the Old Testament as those symbolising the 12 tribes of Israel for each sign. While some remained the same, the stone for Cancer became ruby –which, if one subscribes to the logic of the above, is clearly incorrect.   

The other tricky bit is that some stones come in a variety of colours. Jade, for example, can be green – and is ideal for Taurus. But pink and blue jade is perfect for Libra.

Tourmaline is another which comes in a range of colours. Its warm hues are perfect for Leo, the cooler, blue ones for Aquarius and sometimes Libra.

This also means that there can correctly be the same stone for more than one sign!

Aries – red stones: coral, ruby

Taurus – pastels; soft emerald, jade 

Gemini – soft orange: peridot, tourmaline, garnet

Cancer – pale milky shades: pearl, moonstone, milky quartz

Leo – bright yellow, orange & gold – diamond, some tourmaline, ruby, 

Virgo – earthy shades of tourmaline, peridot, beryl

Libra – bright pastels: soft blue sapphire, opal, 

Scorpio – deep & dark: agate, malachite, some topaz

Sagittarius – purple & royal blue: lapis lazuli, sapphire, some topaz

Capricorn – black & very dark: hematite, jet, black diamonds – although some say turquoise 

Aquarius – blue: aquamarine, pale onyx, bluish crystal

Pisces – shades of the sea: light greens, blues – pale amethysts, pearl, aquamarine

 Another interesting point is, while wearing one’s birthstone is an appealing thought, it’s not always in one’s best interests. In some cases, and at certain times of life, wearing a stone that heightens one’s characteristics isn’t necessarily a good idea.

In fact, often astrologers will ‘prescribe’ another stone to balance the energy field, to help the individual through a difficult period or achieve an objective. A ruby might be prescribed for energy, worn on the Sun finger. And of course cabochon cut, and set so it’s touching the skin. Sapphires attract wealth – and men! The most fascinating is a ring made of an old railroad track nail; this truly toughened metal was to offset the influence of the pressure of the toughest planet of them all, Saturn. 


It is fantastic to be able to read my daily, weekly, monthly and even year to come horoscopes on your site, but how do I get a personalised reading, with my specific date of birth?

You can now order your personal chart by clicking here or on the 'Order Chart By Email' or 'Order Printed Chart' links above.

Are computer-generated charts and readings as good as those done by a trained astrologer?

Computers appeared on the popular astrological scene in about 1975. They have been a tremendous help and a horror at the same time. Computers are perfect for calculating charts, as a chart, or horoscope, is nothing more than a map of the heavens for a moment in time, from the point of view of a specific place on earth. Part of an astrologer's training included becoming expert at doing these calculations, but they are complicated and time-consuming, and computers can do them faster and more precisely. Readings, or interpretations of those charts, is something quite different. A computer-generated reading can seem good value, and it would appear nothing could be better than having a computer work the chart out itself, yet this may not be so. While the computer-generated chart may be incredible accurate, in terms of planetary movements, it takes training to understand and interpret the symbols for the signs and planets which appear in the chart. While it may be a good idea to have a computer work through the complicated calculations, it can not offer the depth and complexity of interpretation that a well trained and experienced astrologer can. A computer could spew out misleading information based on different elements in one chart.

How do I get more information on astrology? I am thinking of taking my studies further. Are there any main sources that you can recommend?


Before studying astrology in more depth, you need to become familiar first with the types of books available. There are three distinct classes and the divisions between them can be based on the level of knowledge of the reader. The first group, for those with general interest, but little previous technical knowledge, maintains a focus, usually based around the twelve star signs. The second group is for those who wish to lean more about the subject and comprises, in essence, primers, teaching the symbols employed in astrology and their meaning. It is possible to gain a foundation from these books, and some are excellent. The third type is designed for those 'fluent' in astrology, that is those who know the basic meaning of the symbols for the signs, planets and can read a chart.

Whatever the level of knowledge, the overwhelming choice can make looking for a book a dizzying experience; it is far better to call into a specialist bookseller than to be left stunned in a big store.

A reading list is shown under my recommendations page.



There are two approaches which can be taken to the study of astrology. One is the more casual approach, reading books of interest, perhaps attending the odd class or lecture. The drawback to this manner of study is that studying done according to a natural interest rather than following a programme often leaves gaps in knowledge. The second approach is to follow a formal plan of study. Large centres specialising in metaphysical studies sometimes offer courses. Perhaps the best bet, especially if you are considering astrology as a career, is to take a correspondence course offered through astrological faculties.

As an Astronomer, I am shocked that astrologers use the planetary movements to predict people's lives. Can you explain to me why?

As many astronomers point out the fact that astrology derives the names for the Zodiac signs from the physical constellations, it is often not acknowledged - or even known - that the calculations for astrology are not based on them. They are in fact based upon time rather than spatial positioning.

It is most unfortunate that while most astrologers learn about astronomy, in turn astronomers generally are not given the opportunity or have the impetus to acquire enough knowledge about astrology to evaluate it properly.

What’s the difference between a star sign and an individual horoscope?

The star sign is based on the month of birth. And while what you learn studying information about your sign can be very illuminating, that’s only the beginning. If you want to know more, you can have your individual chart or horoscope done. This is calculated based on the date, exact hour and place of your birth. The result is an astronomically accurate map of the heavens. An astrologer interprets this, and will detail your elements of your character – your strengths and weakness – and the cycles of your life – your ups and downs.

This can be amazingly revealing. The most frequent comment by first-timers is how precise and informative they found it.

I enjoy reading my stars, but occasionally there are words or phrases that I don’t understand. What do they mean? Can this astrological jargon be avoided?

As with all forms of specialised knowledge, astrology has its own language. While everyone is familiar with the signs of the zodiac and most know the names of the planets, other terms are somewhat more puzzling. There is a detailed explanation of these before.

While these may seem strange to the newcomer, they’re a quick way of describing an event in planetary terms, and in doing so laying the groundwork for an explanation of what to expect here on earth.

Sometimes the message can be confusing as well – if not seem completely wrong. It worth rereading these after the fact. While some predictions never come to pass, others make sense only once they’ve been considered in retrospect. In fact, sometimes what made least sense initially provides stimulating insights when considered in retrospect.

Planet  One of the bodies which move across the heavens. In astrology each planet symbolises a type of energy. For astrological purposes, the Sun and Moon are considered planets.

Sign The twelve signs of the zodiac are based on the twelve constellations in the heavens across which the Sun, Moon and planets move. Each sign represents a viewpoint or way of using energy.

Ruler Every sign is associated with one particular planet; that planet is said to be its ruler. Thus, when the ruler of a particular sign is well positioned, those born under that sign benefit, just as they must cope with the challenges that come with the more difficult aspects.

Aspect  The relationship between two planets. Each aspect has its own nature, some are easy, others more challenging. Each aspect reveals how well the energy will flow between planets.

Retrograde  Every planet except the Sun and Moon are retrograde, or appear to be moving backwards in the heavens, at some time. This is an optical illusion; just as horses appear to be running in the reverse direction when on the far side of a race track from the way their direction when nearby, the planets also appear to be going backwards in the heavens from time to time. This signifies a slowdown in that particular planet’s area of activity. The most memorable – and most frequent – of these is Mercury, the planet of communication, which is retrograde two or three times every year. During this period, which lasts about 22 days, confusion and mix-ups in matters involving communication increase.

The New Moon and Full Moon are central to the cycles on which astrological interpretation is based. The tradition of observing these goes back to the earliest days of civilisation.

New Moon symbolises a fresh start, the moment when nature pauses before beginning a new cycle Full Moon marks the peak of this cycle, some two weeks later.

Eclipses there are at least two solar eclipses each year – in which the Moon passes in front of the Sun, and usually two lunar eclipses as well. These progress through the twelve signs of the zodiac over a period of eighteen years and symbolise a turning point for those born under that sign

The dates for some of the star signs vary from one publication to another. Why are they different? Do astrologers use different dates or is there a variety of ways to work out the dates?

It may surprise you to know that, contrary to general belief, the dates on which the signs begin vary from year to year. Unlike New Year, which is a fixed date and hour every year, at midnight, the day on which the star signs commence is based on the seasons. This derives from the day and hour that the season begins; thus, Aries commences on the same day and at the same moment as spring (in the northern hemisphere), and the signs continue from there. The range from year to year is usually a matter of hours, but there can be a difference of a day or so. Also, during leap years, such as 2012, the added day in February – Leap Year Day, 29 February - alters the dates each sign begins for the rest of the year. Because I frequently mention the dates on which the Sun and planets change signs in my columns, I adjust the dates the signs begin every year, so that those on each sign's heading are correct for the current year.

How do I get a personal chart reading from Shelley?

There are several formats available, depending on the type of chart you are looking for - either for yourself, a loved one, your child or perhaps as a gift. For a one-to-one consultation click here.


The Personal Chart

  • Planet information which enables you to know what the sign of your moon and ascendant are.
  • An in-depth look at your life aspirations, home and family, education, communication, relationships, what drives you, career and ambitions, creativity, challenges and, finally, where you find happiness.
  • A greater understanding and appreciation of who you are, where you're going and where you'll find happiness.


Your Year Ahead Chart

This report, which is uniquely tailored to your birth date and covers the major astrological events for the next 12 months.


  • A greater understanding and appreciation of who you are, where you're ging and where you'll find happiness. Understand how best to handle challenges, know when to pursue goals. Learn when the planets are at their best
  • Be ready for periods such as Mercury's retrograde cycle.


Relationship Chart

Compares two birth charts to focus purely on your relationship with your significant other.


  • Each individual's approach to relating with others is analysed, using their chart to detail their needs, ideals and expectations - and where the rough edges lie.
  • Insights given about areas of inspiration, emotions, communication and understanding, shared values, stress - and physical intimacy.


Baby Zodiac Chart

Children can be enchanting. But they’re also frequently puzzling, particularly when very young and unable to express themselves, their needs or their joys. They don’t arrive with instruction books, but the Zodiac Child comes close. Based on the child’s birth chart, it offers a look at life from the child’s viewpoint, explaining how they see, understand and interpret the world. Obviously this alone would alleviate some of parenting’s greatest anxieties. But also there’s information on play, friends, education, physical, mental and emotional well being and family. Every parent wants to give their child the best foundation possible for the future.


Woman to Woman Chart

Based on a personal birth chart, this report will describe character, strengths and issues with an understanding of what these traits mean to you as a woman.


  • Both practical and psychological, this report blends daily life, family and work with the spiritual life and from the unique perspective of a woman.
  • An in-depth exploration of your true nature, feelings, and your inner and outer world.

Is there one sign that’s a perfect match for me?

One of the first things that anyone who’s interested in astrology realises is that there are certain star signs they get along with better than others. But when it comes to romance, it’s a different matter. Matching partners – even professional associations – is far more complicated. What’s more, saying that a particular sign is ideal could mean bypassing someone who wasn’t born under that “ideal” star sign, but whose chart reveals that they would be a perfect partner. The best approach, therefore, is to get to know someone enough to decide whether it’s worth taking seriously, and they invest in having an astrologer check out their chart, and how the charts work in combination

What's the difference between a star sign and an individual horoscope?

The star sign is based on the month of birth. And while what you learn studying information about your sign can be very illuminating, that’s only the beginning. If you want to know more, you can have your individual chart or horoscope done. This is calculated based on the date, exact hour and place of your birth. The result is an astronomically accurate map of the heavens. An astrologer interprets this, and will detail your elements of your character – your strengths and weakness – and the cycles of your life – your ups and downs. This can be amazingly revealing. The most frequent comment by first-timers is how precise and informative they found it.

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Birthday Stars

You don’t think of yourself as being restricted by your habits or ways of thinking. However, your birthday chart accents, first, the discovery of the many ways you’re creating your own restrictions and, second, how to spot and disentangle yourself from them. While some go back a long way and are about no more than habits, as many have to do with your ideals, some of which are as powerful as they are restrictive. Yet when questioned, you refuse to discuss them. This birthday is about discovering and discussing these, then freeing yourself from them for good.

Thu 03 December - 2020