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Basic Astronomy in Russian Posted by on May 25, 2017 in General reference article, Nature and the outdoors, Scientific Russian

Don’t you wish you could talk about the wonders of the universe in Russian? Here are some vocabulary to get you started.

Земля

earth seen from space

Image from Pixabay

This word is useful for talking about a whole range of natural sciences. Земля can refer to Earth the planet, land, or soil. When we talk about the planet, Земля is capitalized.

Иссле́дователи предположи́ли, что е́сли вода́ на Ма́рсе существу́ет лишь в ви́де льда, то ну́жно разыска́ть на Земле́ аналоги́чные бакте́рии, спосо́бные вы́держать нелёгкие усло́вия Кра́сной плане́ты.
Researchers have suggested that if water only exists on Mars as ice, you need to find on Earth similar bacteria capable of withstanding the harsh environment on the Red Planet.
[Мозаика // «Знание-сила», 2013]

Планета

Планета is the word for a planet. A related word is планетарий, a planetarium. The word for an alien (of the extraterrestrial kind) is инопланетянин — literally “other-planeter.”

Возмо́жна ли связь с разу́мными существа́ми други́х плане́т?
Is contact possible with sentient beings on other planets?
[И. С. Шкловский. Из истории развития радиоастрономии в СССР (1960)]

Спутник

Спутник means “satellite.” It can be a natural moon of a planet, e.g. луна (the moon) or an artificial satellite. Спутник can also refer to someone’s companion, either on a specific trip or in life (a significant other, in that case). The feminine form to refer to a person is спутница. This word comes from путь, way.

Когда́ мы уже́ собира́лись ложи́ться спать, я вдруг заме́тил, что мой спу́тник си́льно заволнова́лся.
When we were getting ready to go to bed, I suddenly noticed that my companion became very agitated.
[Фазиль Искандер. Муки совести, или Байская кровать (1980-1990)]

Одна́ко на́ши техноло́гии не позволя́ют производи́ть доста́точно хоро́шие спу́тники, кото́рые де́лают америка́нцы и европе́йцы.
However, our technology does not let up produce satellites that are as good as the ones Americans and Europeans are making.
[Ольга Вандышева. Бессмысленная гонка // «Эксперт», 2015]

Звезда

Звезда (plural звёзды) means a star — either a celestial body or metaphorically a famous person. Star Wars in Russian is “Звёздные войны.”

Жить э́той звезде́ оста́лось немно́го― не́сколько миллио́нов лет.
This star does not have long left to live — a few million years.
[Сергей Лесков. Не спасутся даже черти. Создана еще одна теория о конце света (2002) // «Известия», 2002.06.14]

Солнце

sunset

Image from Pixabay

The closest star to us is of course, Солнце (л is silent; the sun; capitalized when talking about the star as opposed to sunshine). Солнышко (л is pronounced) is also a term of endearment in Russian. From солнце comes Солнечная система (the Solar System). Note the words of Greek origin ending in -a (планета, система, проблема) are feminine in Russian, even though they were neuter in Greek.

Когда́ мы говори́м, что Земля́ враща́ется вокру́г Со́лнца и́ли Юпи́тер враща́ется вокру́г Со́лнца, на са́мом де́ле э́то не так.
When we say that the Earth revolves around the Sun or that Jupiter revolves around the Sun, it is not really like that.
[Лев Зеленый. Экзопланеты: в поисках второй Земли // «Знание-сила», 2013]

Галактика

Галактика refers to a galaxy. Some of the famous ones are Млечный путь (Milky Way) and Андромеда (Andromeda; note the word stress).

Внутри́ гала́ктики звёзды располага́ются на ра́зном расстоя́нии от её це́нтра.
Stars within a galaxy are located at different distances from its center.
[Максим Харченко. Скрытая масса // «Зеркало мира», 2012]

Вселенная

Вселенная is the word for the universe. It declines like an adjective.

Хотя́ вселе́нная существу́ет уже́ 13, 7 миллиа́рда лет, но усло́вия для появле́ния в ней плане́т появи́лись не сра́зу.
Although the universe has existed for 13.7 billion years, it did not have the right conditions for forming planets right away.
[Михаил Вартбург. Есть ли жизнь на супер-Марсе? // «Знание-сила», 2014]

Чёрная дыра

On top of referring to the astronomical black hole, чёрная дыра can also refer to something that drains resources or makes things disappear.

Хотя́т, что́бы мы своё про́шлое счита́ли чёрной дыро́й.
They want us to think of our past as a black hole.
[Светлана Алексиевич. Время second-hand // «Дружба народов», 2013]

Свет

candles

Image from Pixabay

Light (свет) is a fundamental concept for talking about space. Световой год is a light year. Скорость света is the speed of light.

От измере́ния ско́рости све́та до откры́тия его́ физи́ческой приро́ды прошло́ два столе́тия.
Two centuries had passed from the time the speed of light was measured to the time its physical nature was discovered.
[Геннадий Горелик. Начало квантовой эпохи // «Знание-сила», 2012]

What other words would you add to this list?

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About the Author:Maria

Maria is a trained Russian translator. Originally hailing from Russia, she now lives in Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. When she's not at her computer, she is dancing, out taking photographs or practicing German or Spanish at local language meetups. Maria's professional updates are available on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.


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