Co–Star Rising: How Have Astrology Apps Made Horoscopes More Accessible & Popular?

Photo Courtesy: Maria Voronovich/iStock

Astrology, unlike other spiritual practices, is inclusive of anyone who knows their date of birth. The more details you have — time of birth, location and so on — the better, but knowing the basics can also help paint a picture of what the sky looked like at the time of your birth. While astrology has always been a means of studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects in order to discern things about your life, Co–Star is just one of the apps making the discipline more accessible and mainstream. 

Much like the stars, astrology is always there when you need it. And that’s likely part of its staying power. For thousands of years, we’ve looked to the sky for answers; by the 1930s, horoscopes — sun signs, for those in the know —began appearing in newspapers. More recently, we’ve seen the dawn of websites, apps and social media pages dedicated to horoscopes and birth charts, providing a virtual community for astrology diehards. 

Community-driven astrology platforms like Co–Star are changing the game — in more ways than one. Not to mention, they bring a lot of self-awareness to the table. So, let’s delve into emerging astrology spaces, and why we continue to seek guidance from the stars. 

Introducing Co-Star, an Astrology Powerhouse

Horoscopes aren’t just online these days, but fully automated. Co–Star Astrology has had one of the biggest surges in popularity in this space. After generating over $5 million in seed money in 2019, Co–Star really took off. No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic helped push folks in Co–Star’s direction — whether they were seeking some guidance, a new means of being social or something of a distraction. 

In April of 2021, the company announced it had acquired another $15 million in funding. And that’s pretty impressive growth, considering the iOS version has been out for a few years, while the Android version of Co–Star launched mid-pandemic. As of 2021, Co-Star had been downloaded more than 20 million times. In fact, a quarter of all women (ages 18–25) in the U.S. have Co–Star on their phones. 

For now, the app is free to download, though in-app purchases help the company generate revenue. Still, for most users the experience can be a pretty cost-free one. And that’s impressive considering just how novel Co–Star claims to be — offering supposedly unparalleled insights thanks to a combination of science and human discernment. 

How Does Co–Star Work?

So, what does that mean? “Most horoscopes ask what month you were born,” the app’s website notes. “Co–Star asks what minute.” Moreover, it’s “powered by AI that merges NASA data with the insight of human astrologers.” This all makes for a “hyper-personalized” experience, just as the app promises. 

Photo Courtesy: Co – Star

When you make an account or head over to the platform’s website, it will ask for your birth date, place of birth and (precise) time of birth, so that it can conjure up your birth chart. (If you really want down-to-the-minute accuracy, you may have to phone a family member.) Once you’ve given Co–Star those nuggets of info, you’ll be able to explore the astrological world and your personalized birth chart. Plus, the app makes interacting with fellow users easy. 

When it comes to formulating a birth chart, most websites and apps will ask for your birthdate, but Co–Star really ups the ante. Since a celestial body’s placement can change within a matter of hours (or an hour), knowing the minute you were born can help. If you were to head over to your local astrologer, the whole process would be rather costly. Co–Star, however, will do it all for free. 

Birth Charts, “Your Day at a Glance” and Other Astrological Insights

More likely than not, you’ll feel overwhelmed the first time you open Co–Star. The sheer amount of information is surprising, especially if you’re used to just scrolling through monthly horoscopes, brushing off the other 11 zodiac signs until you land on your sun sign. 

For starters, Co–Star breaks down your birth chart, or natal chart. If you have any interest in astrology (or if you have a friend who is always bugging you about zodiac signs), you likely know some of the 12 zodiac signs. You might even know your sun sign, which is determined by your day of birth. But that’s just one of many insights — a single star in a constellation of information. 

To ease folks in, astrologers often point to three major signs — your sun sign, moon sign and rising (or ascendent) sign. So, what do the Big Three mean? 

  • Sun Sign: If you know your sign, it’s likely that you actually know your sun sign, namely because it’s the easiest to figure out and corresponds to the day you were born on. Just look up the date ranges and you’re set. It’s said that your sun sign represents your core self.
  • Moon Sign: Your moon sign indicates where the moon was at the time of your birth. Moreover, it’s said to represent your inner self or emotional nature.
  • Rising (or Ascendant) Sign: This one is calculated by determining which sign appeared on the Eastern horizon at your time of birth. It’s said that your rising sign is the mask you wear when you present yourself to people.

In addition to reading all about your own natal chart — what does it mean if you’re a Virgo moon? A Leo rising? A Scorpio sun? — you can check out those of your friends. One of the most fun aspects of Co–Star is that you can compare your chart with those of your pals to determine your compatibility across seven categories, which range from abstract things like “Mood & Emotions” to “Intellect & Communication” to “Love & Pleasure” and so on. 

Photo Courtesy: Co – Star via @costarastrology/Instagram

But there’s also a reason to return to the app each day. In addition to providing general insights based on your birth chart, Co–Star offers up daily briefs catered to you. If you turn on the app’s push notifications, you’ll find yourself being called out (or, depending on how you take it, insulted) by its “Your Day at a Glance” snippets. 

Sometimes Co–Star is so salty or existential that it feels like a whole Truman Show-style meme generator. But that’s also the best thing about Co–Star; the folks behind it are in on the joke, too. Sure, people love scrutinizing astrology or raising skepticism about its accuracy or popularity, but that doesn’t mean Co–Star can’t have some fun, too. Rest assured: you’re “he’s such a Leo” joke will fit right in. It’s a refreshing attitude in the serious world of spirituality. 

Due to its use of artificial intelligence, Co–Star has received criticism, with some users complaining that those daily updates appear to be “written by robots”. While it’s nice to know a human is putting some thought and insight into these glances, this AI-driven approach pushes back against the idea of celebrity psychics, allowing Co–Star to focus on the astrology people want — and the sense of community they need. 

Other Astrology Apps, Influencers & Spiritual Spaces

Of course, Co–Star isn’t the only zodiac app out there today. TimePassages, “your pocket astrology toolkit,” offers a natal chart, current star positions and a glossary of need-to-know terms, among other free features. If you’re a fan of Vice, the publication’s Astro Guide features content written by professional astrologers. (It also offers up some tarot insight, if you’re into other popular spiritual practices.)

Astrologer Chani Nicholas delves into Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda’s birth charts. Photo Courtesy: Netflix/YouTube

Looking to be even more invested in what the stars have to say? Sanctuary World, which you may have come across on Instagram thanks to their sleek infographics, is a great option. The Sanctuary World app connects users with psychics, tarot readers and astrologers, but it also offers daily sun sign horoscopes for free. Most features cost extra, however, and will run you either $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year.

Much in the same way Co–Star’s scathing, daily indictments of your life are painfully funny, online personalities and meme accounts have taken to making astrology references a fun “in-joke” of sorts. Astro Poets (@poetastrologers on Twitter; @astro_poets on IG), for example, is constantly posting different lists, jokes, inspiration and other content derived from our shared obsession with the stars. 

And then there are spiritual practitioners and astrologists who boast huge online followings, like Daizy October Latifah (@thatafromystic), who offers Afro-Diasporic spiritual wisdom, divinations and more, and Chani Nicholas (@chaninicholas), a queer activist and astrologer whose own app, CHANI, aims to make astrology a more empowering experience.

Astrology: A Therapeutic Language Worth Learning 

Astrology has always been a means of helping us to interpret the world or make sense of it. Now, it feels like this individualistic practice is moving into a more communal space once again. Much like sports and pop culture fandoms, astrology offers up its own language; it can be used to forge new connections or strengthen existing bonds. 

Photo Courtesy: Co – Star via @costarastrology/Instagram

While Co–Star is just one piece of the mainstreaming of astrology, the practice’s increased visibility, accessibility and cultural saturation has helped it reach new heights. A decade ago, who would’ve thought that Mercury being in retrograde would be headline news?

Despite the practice’s popularity, folks will still criticize astrology. And that’s fine; not everyone will find all of life’s answers in their birth chart. Still, the community is an active one. As Chani Nicholas notes: “astrology is not therapy, but it is therapeutic.” Like any spiritual practice, it can be worth the investment. Yes, even for you, Taurus.