Ad astra (phrase)

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Ad astra is a Latin phrase meaning "to the stars". The phrase has origins with Virgil, who wrote in his Aeneid: "sic itur ad astra" ('thus one journeys to the stars')[1] and "opta ardua pennis astra sequi" ('desire to pursue the high[/hard to reach] stars on wings').[2] Another origin is Seneca the Younger, who wrote in Hercules: "non est ad astra mollis e terris via" ('there is no easy way from the earth to the stars').[3]


Ad is a Latin preposition expressing direction toward in space or time (e.g. ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad hoc, ad libidem, ad valorem, ad hominem). It is also used as a prefix in Latin word formation.[4]

Astra is the accusative plural form of the Latin word astrum, 'star' (from Greek ἄστρον, astron 'a star', derived from PIE root ster-).[5]


Ad astra is used as, or as part of, the motto of many organizations, most prominently, air forces. It has also been adopted as a proper name for various unrelated things (publications, bands, video games, etc.). It likewise sees general use as a popular Latin tag.

Ad astra[edit]

Ad astra per alas porci[edit]

"To the stars on the wings of a pig"

  • Motto on John Steinbeck's personal stamp, featuring a figure of the Pigasus.[8] Steinbeck's motto had an error in the Latin and used 'alia' instead of 'alas'.[9]
  • Title of Chris Thile's Mandolin Concerto.

Ad astra per aspera[edit]

Main article: Per aspera ad astra

"To the stars through difficulties;" "a rough road leads to the stars;" or "Through hardships, to the stars."

De profundis ad astra[edit]

"From the depths to the stars."

Per ardua ad astra[edit]

"Through adversity to the stars" or "Through struggle to the stars."

Per aspera ad astra[edit]

"Through hardships to the stars" or "To the stars through difficulties."

Per audacia ad astra[edit]

"Through boldness to the stars."

Quam celerrime ad astra[edit]

"speedily to the stars."

Sic itur ad astra[edit]

"Thus one goes to the stars."

"Such is the pathway to the stars."

"Reach for the stars."

Other uses[edit]


  1. ^ Virgil, Aeneid IX 641. Spoken by Apollo to Aeneas's young son Iulus.
  2. ^ Virgil, Aenied XII 892–93. Spoken by Aeneas to his foe, Turnus, in their combat.
  3. ^ Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens 437. Spoken by Megara, Hercules' wife.
  4. ^ Harper, Douglas. "ad". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "astra". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  6. ^ Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1929). Armorial Families: a Directory of Gentleman of Coat-Armour. Hurst & Blackett. p. 58. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Class Facts | US Air Force Academy AOG & Endowment".
  8. ^ "Pigasus". Steinbeck Center.
  9. ^ "sluggo on the street". sluggo on the street.
  10. ^ " - The LASFS Coat of Arms".
  11. ^ "Philomathean Society homepage". Philomathean Society.
  12. ^ "Ad Astra". World of Spectrum. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2020.

External links[edit]