Ad astra (phrase)

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(Redirected from Per aspera ad astra)

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 Ancient Greek ἄστρον astron 'star', from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ster-).[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]

"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."

": Macte animo generose puer! Sic itur ad astra

Hinc itur ad astra[edit]

"From here the way leads to the stars"

Other uses[edit]

  • A derived phrase, ex astris ('from the stars'), is used frequently in NASA publications and in science fiction—see Ex astris, scientia.
  • Ad Astra is a 1976 public artwork by American artist Richard Lippold. Lippold's sculpture is located outside the Jefferson Drive entrance, and in the collection, of the National Air and Space Museum.
  • A 1984 computer game, Ad Astra is an outer space shoot-em-up with a 3-D perspective.[16]
  • "Ad Astra" is the title of a William Faulkner short story, found in Collected Stories of William Faulkner (New York: Vintage International).
  • Ad Astra is the title of a 2019 science fiction film starring Brad Pitt.
  • The phrase Sic itur ad astra was also used in the Netflix's Singaporean anime-influenced television series Trese.
  • The phrase Ad astra abyssosque was used as the motto for the Adventurer's Guild in the video game Genshin Impact.
  • "Ad Astra" is the title of a song by Finnish composer Antti Martikainen from the album "Novum" released November 30, 2022.
  • The phrase "Ad Astra" is a key phrase in Nightwish's song Shoemaker and the name of track 8 on disc two from their album Human. :II: Nature.
  • The phrase "Per Aspera, Ad Astra" is used as a motto by Golds, recalling the Earth eras pre-conquering, in the popular Red Rising science fiction saga.


  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. ^ "Seal of Kansas". Kansapedia. Kansas Historical Society. March 2014. Archived from the original on 6 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  11. ^ " - The LASFS Coat of Arms".
  12. ^ "Decorations of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin". Archived from the original on 29 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Nederlandsch-Indische Gemeentewapens" (PDF). NV Mij Vorkink. September 1933. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Gouda in the official Dutch heraldic records". High Council of the Nobility (Hoge Raad van Adel), The Hague. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Philomathean Society homepage". Philomathean Society.
  16. ^ "Ad Astra". World of Spectrum. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2020.

External links[edit]