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The phenomenon of long and short ascension can be illustrated with a very simple example. Imagine standing in front of a building which appears to be 7 meters wide. If you walk 10 meters to the left and examine the same building from a different perspective, it will appear to be narrower than before.

This is precisely what happens to certain astrological signs when observed from the Earth. The Ecliptic is slanted at 23,5° to the Earth’s Equator, as a result of which we see some of the astrological signs from a slanted perspective.

This phenomenon causes a noticeable variation in the length of time that it takes for different signs to rise over the horizon, particularly at middle latitudes. The signs that require more time to ascend are referred to as signs of long ascension. These are the following: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius. The longest signs to ascend are Virgo and Libra.

The signs that require less time to ascend are referred to as signs of short ascension. These are the following: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini. The shortest signs to ascend are Pisces and Aries.

This phenomenon should be noted when someone tries to figure out an ascendant without the aid of a computer or tables of houses (which, of course, cannot be trusted but we astrologers are often asked to do it nevertheless); however, it becomes especially relevant in natal astrology when we do progressions. Those born with a long ascending sign will “stay” in that sign longer, their ascendant will not change for many years. Those born with a short ascending sign may experience as many as four or even five sign changes during their lives.