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Astronomy I - Words List

  • 1376

Hello everyone,
I had this idea running in my head for a while and decided to do it today since it is ahem my birthday ahem and some relative ideas sprang in my head.
Are you familiar or interested in astronomy or astrophotography? If so, probably you might know already that many, many, stars names are actually adapted from Arabic and been Latinized some time in the past, from Medieval to Renaissance ages, by scribes. Actually, it was not only stars names but even some astrological terms like zenith and azimuth were in fact transliterated (with some error) into Latin via Arabic.
Anyway, what I'm going to try here is to list some of the names based on constellations or zodiac signs (starting with Leo ahem, again since it's my sign) and I would try to list some other constellations at other times. In my little research I've found out that some stars do have 2 names in resources, one being completely Latin and another one being adapted from Arabic but I will neglect those whose famous name is the Latin one. I will only focus on those names that you might see clearly if you have any star map app or website or any chart.

My goal here is to introduce some vocabulary to the readers outside the circle of Duolingo. I know, these words might not be beneficial for you but I think it would be a good practice to note them and try to read them to get used to the sounds of Arabic. Unfortunately, it is out of my power for the time being to record the sounds for each name here. However, I will be using my system of transliteration (I can post the link if you like to see the system), with exception to "3" (ع) which I will use what Duolingo is using.
If you think this is useful for you, go ahead and copy the text or write it down, or do whatever you think is good for you. Just notice the words to enrich your stock of Arabic words.

What I'm going to show here is a list of stars name in each zodiac sign (3 of them below) and I will state in order: The Common name, the original Arabic name, then the transliteration of the name and its meaning in English. I might add notes in between too, just for clarification. I thought of adding the official astronomical designation for each star as well (using the Greek alphabet) but that would make it even longer than it is already.

Leo - الأَسَد (al-asad)

  • Ras Elased: رَأْسُ الأَسَدِ الجَنوبِيْ (ra'sul-asadil-janúbiy: the southern head of the lion).
  • Rasalas: رَأْسُ الأَسَدِ الشِّمالِيْ (ra'sul-asadil-šamáliy: the northern head of the lion).
  • Adhafera: الضَّفيرَة (ađ-đafírah: the braid).
  • Algieba: الجَبْهَة (al-jabhah: the forehead). this star is located in the mane of Leo so maybe there is some misnomer when the name was taken from Arabic.
  • Denebola: ذَنَبُ الأَسَد (ðanabul-asad: tail of the lion).

Virgo - العَذْراء (al-3aðrá')

Worth noting that in some old Arabic books about astronomy and astrology, this zodiac sign is sometimes called السُّنْبُلَة (as-sunbulah), meaning the ear (plant).

  • Zavijah: زاوِيَةُ العَوّاء (záwiyatul-3awwá': corner of the barking dog).
  • Zaniah: زاوِيَة (záwiyah: corner/angle).
  • Rijl Al Awwa: رِجْلُ العَوّاء (rijlul-3awwá': leg of the barking dog).
  • Auva: العَوّاء (al-3awwá': the barking dog).

Libra - الميزان (al-mízán)

  • Zubenelgenubi: الزُّبانِي الجَنوبِيْ (az-zubániyyul-janúbiy: the southern claw).
  • Zubeneschamali: الزُّبانِي الشَّمالِيْ (az-zubániyyul-šamáliy: the northern claw).
    it is said such names were given to these stars before separating Libra from Scorpius as distinctive constellation

Well, I think this list of 3 constellations stars' names is enough for now, and I will continue to list another 3 later on, hopefully. I hope some of these words are beneficial for you, even though honestly, some of them are classic and might not be in use in MSA, but yet it would be good to discover the origin of such names, specially if you are into space and astronomy. There had been some names that I've ignored because I was not sure about their origin and I couldn't find any information to confirm my doubts, so just to be on the safe side, I did not add such names to this list. So, hopefully I'll see you later with another list.

August 17, 2019



Oh yessss. This is really enough for the first step. :-)))) And this is great for using it while speaking with a friend who is interested in Astrophysics. This might become a funny and interesting chat. ;-)

  • 1376

good luck!


Nice idea! I want to add that in a different context those words commonly mean:

الأَسَد = Lion

العَذْراء = The virgin

الميزان = Weighing scale

  • 1376

صحيح، لكن استخدمت المصطلحات اللاتينية المتعارف عليها


مُبَارَكٌ لَك, يا رجل الأسد

From long time ago I remembered the name of a star in the lion, Regulus, and I wondered which one this was in your list. The name I found was: "Al Kalb Al Asad"

So I thought, I have learned some arab, I know what that means: "The lion's dog"

However, that didn't match it's latin name: Cor Leonis.

So it reminded me of a warning I read about mixing up q and k: Don't say yaa kalbii (يا كلبي my dog) if you mean to say yaa qalbii (يا قلبي my heart) to your loved one.

  • 1376

hehe yep indeed. changing Q for K changes the whole meaning.

This is actually one of the stars that I've neglected in the list and I did lot of research about it before including it. But I've found out that the name most famous for it is Regulus which is Latin for (the little prince/king). There is another name as well which stems from Arabic, Kalebelasad (heart of the lion) but it's not common according to what I've found. Also, some Arabic resources name this star as المليك (al-malík: the little king) which apparently is a translation form the Latin name. Anyway, since this post is about Latinized names of Arabic origin, I had to drop this one from the list.

شكراً :)

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