Check out all the details on the quirky, futuristic air sign's solar moment this year.
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Aquarius-season-explainer

Every year, from approximately January 19 to February 18, the sun moves through progressive, humanitarian fixed air sign Aquarius — meaning, it's Aquarius season.

During this period, no matter your sun sign, you're sure to feel the effects of Aquarian energy, which is all about collaboration with others, championing the greater good, platonic relationships, striking out on your own, and bolstering scientific understanding and technological advancement. Aquarius' main goal: to challenge the status quo, strike out against convention, and foster connections that will ultimately make the world a better place for everyone. And while they might be one of the innately social air signs and live to collaborate and make friends with just about anyone and everyone, they have a tendency to dig their heels in, especially when it comes to their world view.

It's no wonder that it's this time of year when you're often talking about how you plan to achieve political and social progress (especially when a new administration takes office), looking to the future (Groundhog's Day), celebrating and debating leaders' approaches to creating a better world (Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, etc.), and trying to settle the age-old question of whether or not Valentine's Day is a commercial scam or a sweet opportunity to share what's in your heart (with romantic interests or otherwise). Aquarius season was made for moving, shaking, and mental energy galore.

But there's more to the story than the sun's trip through the convention-loathing sign of the Water Bearer. Because the moon and planets move at varied paces and patterns in our solar system, every sign's season looks a little different from year to year. Here's what Aquarius season 2021 has in store.

Related: What the Age of Aquarius Means for 2021

You'll have to go back before you go forward.

Given that it's following such a dark, reflective, challenge-riddled year, 2021 has already been packed to the brim with a grueling combo of hope and fear. You were itching for it to usher in change and light right off the bat, but the fact is that — while there's reason to be optimistic — it's going to feel like an uphill battle at times, and many themes of the Year That Must Not Be Named will stick with us for a while. That'll be especially apparent as communicator Mercury slows down and goes retrograde in Aquarius on January 30. It'll move backward for three weeks — until February 20 — making this year's Aquarius season more about reflecting and tending to an existing business than racing forward.

The retrograde could also spur miscommunication and tech glitches, and slow down or otherwise throw a wrench in team projects, collaborative efforts, and campaigns to promote universal well-being (hello, already frustrating vaccine rollout). But as futuristic as Aquarius is, they're also science-minded and understand the value of gathering, then wrapping your head around data before plowing ahead. And that'll be a case for going back to the drawing board to get super-clear on what people want to achieve collectively. You'll examine the darkness we're still in the midst of and process what you can. And you'll have the chance to consider what you've learned so far about social issues, including structural racism and COVID, what you still need to better understand, and how you can use all of that as fuel for a better society moving forward.

Stubborn energies take center stage.

Thanks to big planets — and the sun — all in fixed (aka stubborn) signs, you might be more interested in championing your most resolute beliefs than collaborating.

The day after the sun moves into Aquarius is, of course, January 20, the same day that President-elect Joe Biden will take the oath of office and be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. That day, fiery Mars, the planet of action and war, will join up with shock-inducing Uranus, the planet of sudden change and revolution, in Taurus. This electrifying pairing could feel like it's orchestrating both the climax of an ongoing conflict and the beginning of a new chapter. Together, these planets whip up our need to shift gears, stand up for what we believe in, and take out-of-the-blue leaps of faith. But Taurus, being the fixed, stubborn earth sign that it is, has a long fuse, so that could make for a more passive-aggressive expression of this otherwise startling, aggressive energy.

On January 22 (PT) and 23 (ET), Mars then makes a tense square to expansive Jupiter, which could make you feel like you just chugged a double shot of espresso and are more than prepared to handle everything on your to-do list and then some. While this sounds downright exhilarating, a measured approach can preempt action you'll later regret.

On January 26, the confident sun in Aquarius gets in on the action, squaring off against game-changer Uranus, fueling the tendency to dig your heels in and feel hell-bent on doing things your way or not at all. It'll also be fertile ground for sudden, unpredictable twists and turns. You'll want to proceed with caution — just as you will on February 1 when the sun squares aggressive Mars, making way for power struggles, especially with authority figures.

And on February 17, taskmaster Saturn in Aquarius forms a tense square to electrifying Uranus for the first time this year. (It'll happen again on June 14 and December 24.) This can set up a push-pull dynamic between traditional — and perhaps antiquated — approaches and campaigns for structural change.

"Me" vs. "we" will be the main challenge in relationships.

Thanks to a full "Wolf Moon" in showy, look-at-me fixed fire sign Leo on January 28 — which opposes big-picture Jupiter in Aquarius — you may feel torn between self-care and caring for others, between wanting to do the right thing for you versus for the global good. It'll be an important time to understand what underpins these concerns, reconcile them, and also — thanks to a square to combative Mars — be real with yourself about underlying anger and try to process it in a healthy, self-compassionate way.

Once relationship-ruling Venus moves into Aquarius on February 1, where it remains until the 25th, expressions of love will take on a more platonic-forward, quirky, cerebral tone. You could find it feels easier to connect with your S.O. or a potential match when you're initiating provocative debates or doing charitable work together. And on the whole, this transit can support friends-with-benefit situationships, open relationships, polyamorous affairs, and basically any kind of romance that rejects convention.

Look to February 6 as a day in which rebellion in relationships is especially likely, thanks to a square between sweet Venus and game-changer Uranus in Taurus. And on February 11, Venus will pair up with expansive Jupiter, making it a lucky day for love — especially if you're willing to let go of preconceived notions about what relationships "should" look like.

There will be opportunities to express your desires.

Although Mercury will be retrograde (making it tougher to connect) and on February 10, it squares off against go-getter Mars (setting the stage for aggressive, potentially argumentative interactions), the communication planet will form a few beneficial angles. Keep the following in mind when you're looking for opportunities to pitch passion projects or have important heart-to-hearts:

February 8: Mercury pairs up with the confident sun pair up, making this a fortunate day to tackle negotiations, paperwork, and any other projects that require a lot of mental energy.

February 13: Mercury and Venus get together to offer more harmonious communication around matters of the heart.

February 14: That's right! On Valentine's Day, Mercury cozies up to Jupiter, amplifying optimistic, jovial communication. You should feel more sociable, entertaining, and enthusiastic. The moon will also be in youthful, spirited Aries, so whether you're connecting with friends, a partner, or flying solo, it'll be a sweet day for pursuing lighthearted, playful fun.

It's a powerful time to get clear on big-picture intentions.

Every season offers up a new moon — a time to get clear on your intentions, goals, long-term plans, and then take part in some kind of ritual to commit to your vision. On February 11, the Aquarius new moon will pair up with lucky Jupiter, offering a hefty dose of optimism, which could be exactly what you need to fuel future growth — and make the most of a season dedicated to progress, connection, and transforming free-spiritedness into success.

Maressa Brown is a writer and astrologer with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to being Shape's resident astrologer, she contributes to InStyle, Parents, Astrology.com, and more. Follow her Instagram and Twitter at @MaressaSylvie.