astronomy in french

Astronomy in French: 89 Essential Words to Stay Starstruck (Plus Practice Resources)

When you first started studying French, you might have been starstruck.

You still love the language, of course. But now you’re starting to feel a little… attaché(e) à la Terre (Earthbound).

How can you make your love for French sparkle and shine as it once did?

That’s right: By learning how to talk about astronomy in French!

Grab your telescope and get ready to discover 89 essential French words related to astronomy as well as some key resources you can use to practice astronomy vocabulary!


Le soleil — The Sun

astronomy in french

Pendant une tempête solaire, il y a des éruptions solaires et le vent solaire accélère. (During a solar storm, there are solar flares and the solar wind accelerates.)

solaire solar
le système solaire solar system
une éruption solaire solar flare
une tempête solaire solar storm
une tache solaire sunspot
un rayon de soleil sunbeam
une éclipse de soleil solar eclipse
le vent solaire solar wind
l'héliosphère heliosphere

La lune — The Moon

astronomy in french

Les phases de la lune comprennent la nouvelle lune, le croissant de lune et la pleine lune. (The phases of the moon include new moon, crescent moon and full moon.)

croître to wax
décroître to wane
les phases de la lune phases of the moon
le croissant de lune crescent
la pleine lune full moon
la nouvelle lune new moon
lunaire lunar
le cratère lunaire lunar crater
une éclipse lunaire lunar eclipse
une roche lunaire moon rock
le clair de lune moonlight

La terre — The Earth

astronomy in french

L’atmosphère de la terre est protégée par la couche d’ozone. (The Earth’s atmosphere is protected by the ozone layer.)

terrestre earthly
l'atmosphère atmosphere
la stratosphère stratosphere
la gravité gravity
la couche d’ozone ozone layer

Le voyage spatial — Space Travel

astronomy in french

Le spationaute portait une combinaison spatiale et un casque d’astronaute pendant sa sortie dans l’espace. (The astronaut wore a spacesuit and a space helmet during his space walk.)

l’espace / le cosmos outer space
la galaxie galaxy
l’univers universe
la Voie lactée Milky Way
mettre quelque chose en orbite to put something in orbit
une orbite terrestre basse low Earth orbit
une orbite décroissante decaying orbit
une fusée rocket
un lancement de fusée rocket launch
une navette spatiale space shuttle
un astronaute astronaut
une combinaison spatiale space suit
un casque d’astronaute space helmet
une sortie dans l’espace space walk
la soute payload
une station spatiale space station
un complexe orbital orbiting space station
le centre de contrôle mission control
un satellite satellite

Les planètes — The Planets

astronomy in french

Les planètes du Système Solaire sont Mercure, Vénus, Terre, Mars, Jupiter, Saturne, Uranus et Neptune; Pluton est considéré une planète naine. (The planets of the Solar System are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; Pluto is considered a dwarf planet.)

Mercure Mercury
Vénus Venus
Terre Earth
Mars Mars
Jupiter Jupiter
Saturne Saturn
Uranus Uranus
Neptune Neptune
une planète naine dwarf planet
Pluton Pluto

Les étoiles — The Stars

astronomy in french

Une naine blanche est plus petite et moins lumineuse qu’un géant rouge. (A white dwarf is smaller and less bright than a red giant.)

Sirius Sirius, the Dog Star
l’Étoile polaire Polaris, the North Star
une supernova supernova
une étoile filante shooting star
une étoile à neutrons neutron star
un trou noir black hole
une naine blanche white dwarf
une naine rouge red dwarf
un pulsar pulsar
la supergéante supergiant
la géante rouge red giant
une étoile variable variable star

Les constellations — The Constellations

astronomy in french

Les noms pour les constellations—comme le Chasseur, le Centaure et Pégase—viennent souvent de la mythologie. (Names for constellations—like Orion, Centaurus and Pegasus—often come from mythology.)

la Grande Ourse Ursa Major
le Grand Chien Canis Major
le Petit Chien Canis Minor
Cassiopée Cassiopeia
le Centaure Centaurus
le Chasseur Orion (the Hunter)
la Balance Libra (the Scales)
Pégase Pegasus (the Horse)
le Poisson Pisces (the Fish)
le Sagittaire Sagittarius
le Taureau Taurus (the Bull)
la Grande Casserole the Big Dipper
la Petite Casserole the Little Dipper

Les comètes et les nébuleuses — Comets and Nebulas

astronomy in french

Grâce aux nuages gazeux en eux, les nébuleuses comme la nébuleuse du Crabe et la nébuleuse de la Tête de Cheval sont souvent vivement colorées. (Thanks to the gas clouds within them, nebulae such as the Crab Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula are often brightly colored.)

une comète comet
la queue de la comète comet's tail
un amas ouvert open cluster
un nuage gazeux gas cloud
une nébuleuse nebula
la nébuleuse de la Tête de Cheval Horsehead Nebula
la nébuleuse du Crabe Crab Nebula
un astéroïde asteroid
une ceinture d’astéroïde asteroid belt
une singularité gravitationnelle gravitational singularity

How to Practice French Astronomy Terms

When it comes to practicing your French astronomy vocab, you won’t be left in a void! Here are a few resources you can use to keep the stars aligned.

Celestial poetry

Explore the universe in the measured verse of renowned French poets like Victor Hugo, Paul Verlaine and Théodore Faullain de Banville.

Suggested reading:

La science-fiction (Science fiction)

Try out your knowledge of astronomy in French while enjoying the works of science-fiction luminaries like Jules Verne and Pierre Boulle.

Suggested reading:

  • “De la terre à la lune” (“From the Earth to the Moon”) and its sequel, “Autour de la lune” (“Around the Moon”) by Jules Verne. A Steampunk dream duo of tales about the first (fictional) moon landing.
  • “Voyage à Vénus” (“Voyage to Venus”) by Archille Eyraud. Journey by rocket ship to an ideal Venusian society.
  • “La Planète des singes” (“Planet of the Apes”) by Pierre Boulle. From the writer of “Le Pont de la rivière Kwai” (“The Bridge on the River Kwai”) comes a classic tale of space travel and adventure.

Suggested viewing:

  • “Missions,” a French science-fiction TV series about a crew voyaging to Mars.

Follow French astronomy

You can also develop a robust knowledge of French astronomical terms by using original sources to learn more about both historical and contemporary French astronomers:

Stargaze à la française  (the French way)

If you’re already a stargazer, you can use your hobby to increase fluency. There are numerous guides for les observations célestes  (celestial observations), such as “Petit guide du ciel” (“Little Sky Guide”) by Bernard Pellequer or “Guide de l’astronome débutant” (“Beginning Astronomer’s Guide”) by Vincent Jean Victor.

These YouTube channels will also guide your studies of l’astronomie  (astronomy):

  • À Ciel Ouvert (To the Open Sky): A short series of videos to introduce concepts such as lunar eclipses and the rotation of the Earth.
  • Astronomie Pratique (Practical Astronomy): Tips for calibrating and using les jumelles (binoculars) and un télescope (a telescope) for stargazing, along with astrophotography tips and information about constellations and stellar phenomena.

L’ultime frontière (the final frontier)

Follow news stories from CNES, the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (France’s National Center for Space Studies). The site includes a library of short videos on various topics, such as Mars exploration.

Watch an interview with French spationaute (astronaut) Thomas Pesquet, who has worked and lived aboard la Station Spatiale Internationale  (the International Space Station).

To see some of these terms used in context, you could also try searching for them on an immersive language learning program like FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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Equipped with these terms for talking about astronomy in French, tu ne seras jamais perdu dans l’espace  (you’ll never be lost in space)!

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