Studied law at Paris before becoming an astronomy student of Delisle and Lemonnier at the Collège de France.
Went to Berlin on a scientific mission to determine the parallax of the moon and took the name of Lalande (1751). Admitted to the Academy of Sciences (1753). Charged with editing the almanac, La Connaissance des temps (1760). Became Professor of Astronomy at the Collège de France (1760). Director of the Observatoire (1768-1807).
Wrote numerous articles for various scientific journals. Worked on the Necrologie des hommes célèbres de France (1767-82). Published many works on astrology.
Born in Bourg-en-Bresse.