Ad astra (phrase)

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 astraEdit

Ad astra per alas porciEdit

"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 asperaEdit

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

De profundis ad astraEdit

"From the depths to the stars."

Per ardua ad astraEdit

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

Per aspera ad astraEdit

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

Per audacia ad astraEdit

"Through boldness to the stars."

Quam celerrime ad astraEdit

"speedily to the stars."

Sic itur ad astraEdit

"Thus one goes to the stars."

"Such is the pathway to the stars."

"Reach for the stars."

Other usesEdit


  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 linksEdit