In case you haven’t heard of the Co-Star app, it’s one of the most popular astrology apps out there, and Gen Z is obsessed. The app uses NASA data and artificial intelligence to create personalized astrological readings for users, and is described as a “hyper-personalized social experience bringing astrology into the 21st century.” After downloading Co-Star and inputting your exact birth date, time, and location, Co-Star creates a daily horoscope for you and provides longer-term predictions about your life, along with regular push notifications with astrology-related info to interpret. You can also connect with friends to compare your compatibility. The Co-Star app is making astrology — one of the oldest personal growth tools in history — more accessible for Gen Z, and with 20 million downloads and one quarter of U.S. women ages 18 to 25 having downloaded the app, it’s no surprise that Co-Star has raised $15 million in Series A funding.
I’m part of that statistic, and I often wonder why my demographic has such an interest in astrology. Why does Gen Z care so much about their sun, moon, and rising signs? Nowadays, our zodiac signs have become part of our identities; cheeky social media posts and articles about self-care activities for your sign are popular for a reason.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the foundation of your astrological identity can be defined by your birth chart. Birth charts are based on the exact date, time, and location of your birth, which means that everyone’s chart is completely individual and unique. Each element of your birth chart tells you something different about yourself; for example, your “sun” sign is meant to represent your personality, while your “moon” sign represents emotions and your inner world. Your “rising” sign symbolizes how you typically present yourself to others. Astrology apps and services like Co-Star exist to help you understand your birth chart — along with your signs — and they typically use algorithms to formulate your individual horoscope. These apps are different from getting a personal astrology reading, where you can get a one-on-one experience with a human astrologer who walks you through your unique birth chart and what it means in the context of your life.
More often than I’d like to admit, I’ve found myself on Co-Star overanalyzing a vague push notification or trying to contextualize the compatibility between myself and a friend. That said, I often ponder the power of the Co-Star app, and how it seems to have a major influence on its users, especially for Gen Z.
So, what exactly is the driving force behind Co-Star’s popularity and the app’s influence? Is the free app really the best option for understanding astrology, or are personal astrology readings a worthy alternative? I spoke with established astrologer, Sofia Adler, M.A., to break it all down. She holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Education from Columbia University, and teaches others to understand themselves through tailored astrology readings and personal coaching. I spoke with Adler about the importance of astrology, the pros and cons of free astrology apps like Co-Star, and why personalized astrology services are worth it.
Her Campus: Why is astrology important for understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us?
SA: The power of understanding astrology is the power of understanding your own energetic makeup — your unique blueprint. I believe that we are souls with bodies, rather than bodies with souls, and as a result, our birth charts reveal the moment our soul chose to reincarnate. Understanding your birth chart is understanding your roadmap for being here.
Having an understanding of astrology also helps us remember we’re all connected. We are all spirit, we are all energy…we are made up of the same elements and energy that the planets are. As an astrologer, I speak to the energies and qualities of the planets and how they are reflected in clients’ charts and lives.
HC: What are the pros and cons of using an app like Co-Star?
SA: Astrology has been around since the B.C. era, and it’s one of the oldest personal growth tools out there. But, to that point, astrology used to be reserved for royalty…it wasn’t for the common person. What’s great about astrology apps [like Co-Star] is that they make astrology accessible.
While I like that the apps make astrology accessible, at the same time, the real power and magic of astrology is that it is so incredibly specific. When you use an app as your only means of understanding your astrological makeup, it’s generalized, and it’s hard to know if it really applies to you.
Astrology is about deciphering, getting curious, and understanding how the energy of how your chart reflects in your day-to-day life. Without that room for curiosity and conversation, just using an app can remove the personal agency that I think that, at its highest, astrology provides. Astrology is fluid, changing, and dynamic. When we only use apps, I think we’re just looking at a piece of the puzzle.
HC: Users have constant access to the Co-Star app and can reference it 24/7. Are there potential downfalls to this?
SA: Astrology gives us information. It’s not telling you what to do or what not to do — it’s meant to let you know what to expect. For example, it’s not about putting your life on hold until Mercury retrograde is over. It’s just about being aware of what the energy is in the present moment, and its impact.
[Having constant access to Co-Star] can take away your sense of free will and personal power and it can prevent you from living in the present. Having the intrusive thought of, “what does the app say about x, y, z?” gives the power to someone who hasn’t even met you, rather than taking the time to look within yourself.
HC: What makes paid astrology experiences, like newsletters or one-on-one readings, worth it?
SA: The reason that a personal reading is worth the investment is because it is completely tailored to you. You are able to go deep and understand yourself in a way that you never would have thought of before. If you’re not willing to invest in yourself, who will?
I’m a big believer in the ripple effect — the more you understand about yourself, the more authentic and alive you’re able to be in your schoolwork, with your friends, [and] with your career. Getting to know yourself is the first step in building the life that you want — the one that lights you up.
Previously, I hadn’t viewed astrology as anything more than a fun activity, similar to taking a personality quiz. However, after speaking with Adler, I learned how powerful astrology can be for understanding yourself. Learning to read “your astrological blueprint,” as Adler would call it, lends a deeper meaning to your characteristics and experiences, and can a true investment in yourself. In a sense, I think astrology can be a form of self-care; after all, understanding yourself is crucial in caring for yourself.
If you’re debating deleting the Co-Star app or continuing to use it, I’d say delete. The app does provide useful information about your birth chart, but without someone’s expertise to contextualize the information, there is plenty of room for confusion and limited assumptions. For example, my chart is ruled by Cancer (it’s my Mercury, Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and Mars sign!). Cancers are generally characterized by their emotionality and caring nature, but when I had my chart read a few years ago, I learned how the sign is reflected in other ways throughout my chart and in my life. Having an astrologer to help me understand how my astrological makeup influences my personality and life gave me an understanding that I wouldn’t have gotten from just using an app like Co-Star.
I believe a personalized astrological experience (like a one-on-one reading) is worth far more than a free app. Astrologers use their expertise to help you decipher your birth chart and understand yourself deeper; for example, your personality, relationship patterns, what to expect in upcoming seasons of life, and of course, the meaning behind each element of your astrological makeup.
The bottom line: you can’t program human nature into an astrology app. Apps simply use data to craft content for you to consume, whereas personalized readings will take into account your birth chart “blueprint” and your humanity — it’s a way for you to learn about astrology within the context of real life. That said, it’s time to put the Co-Star app down. For real this time.