Co-Star
The stars have aligned with the making of this app. (Illustration by Rachel Glucksman, Rhode Island School of Design)
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Co-Star

Here’s your own pocket fortune teller.

Astrology has become relatively popular among millennials in recent years. Many young people find it provides comfort and insight in a world dominated by stress and uncertainty. Astrologically-themed accounts have popped up all over Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and they often talk about the signs in listicles, like “the signs as phobias.” There are also plenty of apps that dish out daily horoscopes based on people’s sun signs, but Co-Star is an app that gives you personalized advice based on your astrological birth chart.

It’s become quite popular and astrology fanatics have a lot of praise for the app. Co-Star works by first having you sign in with a username of your choice, which you will be greeted by whenever you open the app.

Next, in order to calculate your birth chart, you’re supposed to put in the date, time and location you were born. There’s an option if you don’t know your birth time as well, since some people inevitably don’t. Then Co-Star presents you with a chart based on the alignment of the planets, sun and moon during your birth.

After the app has your birth chart, you can look at what signs you are other than your sun sign. For example, I’m a Leo sun, Taurus moon and Gemini ascendant. Along with your chart, Co-Star goes through each sign and explains what it means in concise paragraphs. Suppose you have your Jupiter in Aries, then you can read about what traits you might have as a result.

Every time you sign into Co-Star, you will see its prediction for the day under “Today.” It will tell you what you have power in as well as what you will have trouble with. The app breaks your day down into six categories: work, self, social life, thinking & creativity, spirituality and sex & love. You can click on each category for an overview of what’s going on in that part of your life.

There’s also a general daily horoscope Co-Star gives you that details what your overall day will be like. At the end it always says what your current main challenge is. Under each little overview in the categories, you can tell the app how useful the information was by tapping on a smiley, indifferent or sad face underneath them.

A cool feature of Co-Star is that you can add friends who also have the app if you want to see whose day is similar or even compatible to yours. Obviously, astrology can’t decide who your friends are based off your signs, but it’s fun to compare what the app might tell you.

The app’s website advertises itself as a “hyper-personalized, social experience bringing astrology into the 21st century.” It’s powered by an artificial intelligence and it merges NASA data of the planets with the insight of human astrologers. Co-Star is designed to give you accurate advice and predictions that historically would only be available through a personal astrologist.

However, the important question is whether Co-Star is actually all that accurate. According to almost 65,000 five-star ratings in the App Store, it must be. One review says: “If you believe in the stars, I highly recommend this app! If you’re a nonbeliever, I challenge you to try this app!”

They recount how their jaw drops every time they open the app because the horoscopes are so accurate and timely. Another review describes Co-Star as “accurate, fun and especially intriguing to read.” There are plenty more reviews calling it “spot-on.”

Of course, as with anything, people also have complaints. Some reviews claim Co-Star is anxiety-inducing because the way it delivers its horoscopes can be ominous and too blunt. One says the app feels like “a fortune teller at a county fair telling you there’s doom and gloom ahead.” The creators of Co-Star seem to need to work on how it communicates with the user and perhaps reconsider what tone they’re aiming for.

Despite the app’s critics, it has gained overwhelming success and is a staple in countless people’s days as a result of its personalized nature. Co-Star was founded by Banu Guler, Ben Weitzman and Anna Kopp and launched in late 2017. It has over 2 million downloads. They created their app because they noticed a lot of people obsessed with astrology that had no reliable sources for it besides the backs of magazines or old websites.

Now instead of turning to Cosmo magazine or the newspaper to look up horoscopes, people can simply download Co-Star and look at their entire chart. Your chart is essentially a snapshot of the sky the day or night you were born and the changes the sky has undergone since then.

Co-Star goes into detail on how compatible you are with another person once you’ve added them on the app. It compares each sign (sun, moon, ascendant, etc.) with the other and tells you exactly how you’ll most likely interact. If only we had this back in middle school when everyone was desperately searching Cosmo for clues about their crushes’ signs.

No one wants to read a horoscope littered with terms only astrology buffs would know, so that’s why Co-Star explains each sign in easily understandable language. Even though some have argued the app tells you your horoscope in too ominous and eerie a way, a lot of its blunt language sounds exactly like another person telling you what’s going on.

Some of Co-Star’s mantras under “Today” might be, “There are many ways to let people back into your life” or, “Your talents may feel like they are trapped in a block of ice.” A lot of the app’s advice sounds like a stern but caring friend trying to steer you in the right direction. They’re letting you know how your personality comes off. Maybe a friend can’t predict your future like Co-Star seems to, but the tone is still the same.

Another cool feature on the app can be found under the “Details” section of Co-Star’s categories. There’s a section labeled “Transits,” which are used in predictive astrology to forecast future trends and developments. Transits don’t directly predict the future, but they suggest a variety of possibilities that could happen based on how the planets progress in their movements. In the app, your transits show what trends are in your future for however long, such as realism challenging ego over two weeks.

If you particularly like what Co-Star’s horoscope tells you one day, you can save it to look at later. This is helpful if you want to see a trend in what astrology is telling you or you feel inspired by one of the app’s suggestions.

Astrology fanatics have been loving Co-Star, as it’s one of the only astrology apps personally tailored to your birth chart. But even if you’re not a fan of astrology or if you want to get into it, the app is a nice way to feel in control when life may be overwhelming.

It’s no wonder millennials and young people in general are open to the idea of astrology. In a world where there’s climate change, school shootings, ongoing wars and the threat of nuclear destruction, a lot of us feel like we could use some direction from a force bigger than us.

There’s a ton of uncertainty and unease in our lives for most of us, so getting a notification about what your day looks like at a glance can be extremely comforting. An explanation for why you act the way you do or why certain situations are happening, even though it’s just astrology, does help. It might seem silly to turn to an app run by AI and pseudoscience for answers, but astrology can guide you through your problems and the world around you. Sometimes that’s all you need.

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