The birth chart is made up of three things -- planets, the signs of the Zodiac and the twelve Houses. Take a moment to find these on the wheel. For signs and planets, use the gallery of symbols for reference. And note that like in most charts, the twelve segments or Houses have corresponding numbers in the middle of the circle.
Each planet-sign-house combo, such as Sun in Taurus in the 5th House, has a unique expression. The key to interpreting a birth chart is to be able to understand the essence of that combo on its own, and then in relationship to the other planets. For now, start with the first elements on their own.
We'll be using this birth chart for the fictional Harry Potter. Using clues about his birth data from the book series, Barbara Schermer cast this chart.
On Harry's chart, the sign Leo is on the middle left, which gives him a Leo Ascendant (Asc) or Rising sign. The signs progress from there in a counter-clockwise direction until coming back to the horizon of the chart.
In a birth chart, the Rising sign is the mask that others often see first. Harry's Leo Rising gives him a fun-loving, expressive "front door" to the outer world.