Image, front door, mask, outer personality, social persona, what others see, physical traits, habits and behaviors, that first impression, First House.
The Meaning of the Rising Sign in Astrology:
The Rising sign is known as the mask of the persona, and the first impression we make on those we meet. It could be said that the qualities of the sign that was rising on the eastern horizon imprints on the outer self as we emerge into the world. After that, each time we encounter a new situation or person, this is the "face" we reveal.
If you've ever been puzzled by how others describe you, it could be that they've encountered the Rising sign qualities. It's the image facing outward, and might not be how you see yourself at all. It is the front door of the self, but as much a part of the personality as the Sun sign.
The Rising sign deals with First House issues like appearance and personality, and can even influence physical characteristics. If the Sun is the core self, taking action in the world, the Rising sign is the vehicle with which to do it.
It's qualities show up immediately, while the full essence of the person's Sun sign become known over time. For example, a Virgo with Leo Rising may have a big mane of hair and come across as showy and proud, but after awhile, you'll discover the true humble and modest Virgo, always ready to serve in some way. The Rising and Sun sign blend into an inner and outer layer, with the Moon obscured deep within and behind the shifting clouds of the self.
What is the Rising Sign in the Birth Chart?:
It is the Zodiac sign rising on the eastern horizon at the moment of your birth. When people say Ascendant, they're just using another name for the Rising sign. On a chart, you might see it abbreviated as ASC.
How is the Rising Sign Determined?:
When the time of your birth is known, an exact calculation by degrees can be made. Several astrology sites offer birth charts which will always include the rising sign.
You can also go to the Free Birth Chart calculator courtesy of Astrolabe.
There are also ways to compute the Rising sign using some basic mathematical calculations. You'd need to know the exact time, along with the longitude and latitude of your birth place. Then, you'll need to convert the time to Greenwich time, followed by making the adjustment to Sidereal time. Sidereal simply means "star" and the Sidereal day, based on the stars, is four minutes shorter than a day based on the Sun.
Is the Rising Sign Important?:
Until the rise of Sun sign astrology in the early 20th century, the Rising sign was a dominant focus of interest. The Ancient Greeks popularized astrology among the general public when the Rising sign was introduced to add individual nuance to the twelve Sun signs.
The Sun and Rising sign harmonize together to form the personality, with the latter acting as the front door. The Moon sign is the other component of the "Big Three," but its influence is often hidden to others. The Rising sign is important both in understanding your personality, and because it determines how the rest of the chart is laid out.