astronomy in french

Stay Starstruck: Talk About Astronomy in French with Essential Vocab and Resources

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

Quelle belle langue! (What a beautiful language!)

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?

Well, we’re going to move heaven and earth to put your French studies back on a celestial trajectory.

That’s right: We’re learning how to talk about astronomy in French.

Why Study Astronomy in French?

Studying astronomy terms in French might seem like an otherworldly idea. However, learning this vocabulary can really expand your horizons.

Explore strange new worlds

Your early French vocab lists probably included a lot of nature words—like l’arbre (tree), l’oiseau (bird), le nuage (cloud) and la fleur (flower).

Chances are, you also learned le soleil (sun), la lune (moon), l’étoile (star) and le ciel (sky). But that’s likely where your foray into French astronomy ended.

As you continue to build your French vocabulary, why not look to the heavens for inspiration? After all, astronomy words in French will help you describe an important part of nature.

Follow French astronomy

Develop a robust knowledge of French astronomical terms, and you can use original sources to learn more about both historical and contemporary French astronomers:

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 such renowned French poets as Victor Hugo, Paul Verlaine and Théodore Faullain de Banville.

Suggested reading:

La science-fiction

Try out your knowledge of astronomy in French while enjoying the works of such science-fiction luminaries as 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.

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):

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 footage about French spationautes (astronauts), such as Thomas Pesquet, who have worked and lived aboard la Station Spatiale Internationale (the International Space Station).

Suggested viewing:

astronomy in french

Talk About Astronomy in French with Essential Vocab and Resources

Grab ton télescope (your telescope) and get ready to scope out the heavens for scintillating French 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 du soleil — sunbeam

une éclipse de soleil — solar eclipse

le vent solaire — solar wind

une 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

la 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

terre-à-terre — earthbound

une 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 extra-atmosphérique (m.) — outer space

la galaxie — galaxy

l’univers (m.) — 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

la fusée — rocket

le lancement de fusée — rocket launch

la navette spatiale — space shuttle

le spationaute — astronaut

la combinaison spatiale — space suit

le casque d’astronaute — space helmet

la sortie dans l’espace — space walk

la charge utile — payload

la station spatiale — space station

le complexe orbital — orbiting space station

le centre de contrôle — mission control

le 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)

les Poissons — 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 nebuleuse — 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


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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