What if I don’t know my birth time? The problem with astrology — and how to work around it

Astro 101

Why does my birth time matter?

The planets are constantly moving, and so is the sky, thanks to Earth’s daily rotation. Your birth chart provides a freeze-frame. It is a snapshot of the sky from the moment and location you entered the world. Knowing the exact time, date, and place of your birth is essential for an accurate chart reading.

For example, the Moon changes sign every 2-3 days. If you were born on a day when the Moon traveled from one sign to another, only your birth time would pinpoint what sign it was in when you were born.

Rising signs shift even faster. The rising sign (also known as the ascendant) is the sign climbing over the Eastern horizon at any given moment. In a birth chart, this is the point that most intimately represents you: your body, your vitality, your sense of self. Because this sign is so specific to you, it forms your 1st House of self and identity. The next sign becomes your 2nd House of assets, resources and livelihood, and the sign after that forms your 3rd House of communication, daily life, siblings and extended family, and so on. If you don’t know your rising sign, you won’t know what signs correspond to what houses.

Rising signs shift every 1-2 hours, with the entire zodiac rolodexing over the horizon in a 24-hour period. What’s more, the exact degree rising (that is, the degree of your ascendant) advances every couple of minutes. That’s why your rising sign is so important in astrology, and why we focus on it so much in the CHANI app. It is uniquely personal to you.

The same can be said for the other anchors of your birth chart. The points of your MC (which signifies your career and public roles), IC (home, family, and roots), and DC (close relationships) are all determined by the exact time, date, and place of your birth.

There are different ways to work with your chart if you don’t know your birth time, but we wanted to provide you with some ideas of how you might hunt for the most precise astrological analysis possible. Because different hospitals, states, and countries have different protocols when it comes to documenting births, it helps if you know — and communicate with — your parents and caregivers. For many people who are adopted, or whose parents are no longer living, or out of touch, that’s not a possibility.

Age can matter too. It might be harder to track down older records — though not always — and/or some hospitals only started recording birth times after a certain date.

So, what do you do if you don’t know your birth time?

1. Leave no stone unturned  

If there is research to do, do it. Just because you don’t see a time recorded on your birth certificate at home doesn’t mean your birth time wasn’t recorded. Many people only have their short-form birth certificate, which is essentially a notarized document saying the long-form certificate exists. It includes the most essential information, like your birthdate, but rarely the time. The long-form birth certificate is the document recorded at the hospital. Often, it includes more details, like parents’ names, dates of birth, hospital name, and yes — the birth time.

To find the long-form certificate, call the local government office that manages birth records. This might be called the ministry, department, or office of “vital statistics,” or it might be called something else in your region. It could be state-wide, province-wide, county-wide, or parish-wide — again, depending on where and when you were born.

Before you order the certificate, ask someone to verify that the birth time is on the record. With astrology so popular, even normalized, at the moment, you won’t be the only one with this request.

You can also try calling the hospital where you were born. If they don’t keep those records themselves, they might be able to tell you who does.

Even if your caregivers or parents think they know when you were born, finding your long-form birth certificate is always the best option. Most people present at the birth had other things to focus on while you were coming into this world, and their memories are more faulty than you might assume. Remember that your rising sign can change within a few minutes, so you need an exact time, not one rounded to the hour, if possible.

2. Go digging  

Comb through old baby books, photo albums, boxes in the attic, scrapbooks, family bibles, etc. There’s a chance your long-form certificate was tucked away somewhere, or that a fastidious caregiver, parent, or grandparent wrote down the time of birth in their diary.

3. Ask around  

Ask your parents, caregivers, or someone who might have been present at your birth, like a relative or family friend. Ideally, you want to find a document with your exact birth time, as mentioned, but if you can home in on the hour or approximate time of day, that will help identify your Moon and narrow down the options for your rising sign.

4. Rectify your chart  

As a last resort, you can try to get your chart rectified by an astrologer who specializes in this technique. There will always be some trial and error — chart rectification is not an exact science — but for some people, it works very well. While we don’t offer referrals for astrologers who do this work, we suggest going to your networks (or asking Twitter?) to find out if anyone you know works with an astrologer they trust.

What if I have a rough idea of my birth time?

If you can narrow down your birth time to a 1-2 hour window, that’s a great start. With this, you should be able to pinpoint your Moon sign, and even your rising sign, though not the exact degrees.

Pull up your chart on the CHANI app or our online chart tool using the earliest possible time. Note the rising sign for this option. Next, try the latest possible time. If the sign remains the same for both times, congratulations! You have found your rising sign.

If not: you’ve at least narrowed it down to two possibilities. Read the content for both and see what fits. You can even try asking your friends and family to learn how they perceive you.

How do I work with astrology if I don’t have my birth time?

If none of these options work, you can still engage in your chart without a birth time, but it means you won’t know your ascendant or how the houses line up. Instead, you’ll focus on the placement of planets in signs and how they interact with each other. To do this, you only need your birthdate. Go to the CHANI app or our website. Fill in all the fields, selecting 12 PM as your birth time. From here, you will find where all the planets were located (with the possible exception of the Moon, if it changed signs that day.) Click on a planet you’re curious about to learn what aspects (relationships) it is making with other planets.

Remember: this technique only works for getting to know the planets in your chart. You will have to disregard the rising sign, the house placements, as well as the MC, IC, and DC.

Alternatively, you can set your Sun as the rising sign. This is actually how pop astrology / magazine column horoscopes are written: they take your Sun sign and write your horoscope as if it’s the 1st House.

To do this, simply Google “What time was sunrise” on your date of birth from your birth location. From there, you will get a time that gives you the same rising sign as your Sun sign. Then, go to the CHANI app or our website. Fill in all the fields, including your birthdate and place. If for some reason your rising sign is different from your Sun sign, double-check your data and try adding or subtracting 5 minutes. That should do the trick.

Remember, your horoscope will always be more accurate with an exact time of birth, but this technique can shed valuable information too — and it’s less arbitrary than selecting a random time.



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