First launched on April 12, 2001, Yuri’s Night celebrates two amazing accomplishments of humankind: Yuri Gagarin’s becoming the first human to orbit the earth in 1961 and the first launch of the U.S. Space Shuttle, twenty years later to the day. It is also a global celebration of humanity’s future in space and how we can use space to bring us closer together. Last year we had over 300 parties on 7 continents and even the Curiosity Rover tweeted about partying on Mars!
This year the flagship Yuri’s Night event will take place on April 11 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles when we party in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Pavilion. The Planetary Society is sponsoring the L.A event again this year and Mat Kaplan will be doing a live taping of Planetary Radio that night with our Special Guest, former NASA Astronaut Ron Garan. Ron was actually on the International Space Station for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic first spaceflight and actually brought up Yuri's Night t-shirts for the whole crew to wear. After his flight he create Fragile Oasis, a website that helps encourage people to use space to make a difference here on Earth. We will also have a host of other space experts and projects of interest to learn about and talk to. It's really the most fun space night club in L.A because you can really go up and talk to just about anyone. Costumes are encouraged. Aliens, space travelers, rocket motors and anything sparkly or that lights up is probably along the right track. For more information or tickets go to http://la.yurisnight.net.
Not to be outdone, our friends at The Planetary Society Waterloo Region have their own Yuri’s Night geek fest-planned. They’re taking over a Makers Space with a night of fun, trivia, video games and whatever nerdiness they can come up with. Artemis, the Star Trek bridge simulator game, NASA Mars Lander on Xbox Kinect, and an Oculus Rift demo of Titans of Space will be among the evening’s festivities.
If you are near San Francisco, you have events at the California Academy of Science on Thursday, and Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland on Saturday along with two other parties as well. If you are near Washington DC, there are also three difference Yuri’s Night events to choose from. Seattle has an event at the Museum of Flight. Florida, Paris, Finland, Australia, Canada, Bulgaria and Japan are also well represented. The Czech Republic is even having a Shrimp in Space party, but you have to be sure to pre-order tickets to make sure they have enough shrimp!
There are also a host of Space Apps Challenge events taking place around the world as well on April 12th with teams competing to code solutions to 32 difference challenges that NASA put out. It is another awesome way to bring together space and making a difference in honor of Yuri’s Night! If that appeals to you please check out their site.
If you decide to host your own impromptu local event, there are also other cool things you can do at your Yuri’s Night party, including sending your name to an asteroid and beyond! The Planetary Society and NASA are collecting names to be flown on a microchip to the asteroid Bennu on the OSIRIS-Rex mission in 2016. OSIRIS-Rex will be collecting a sample of Bennu’s surface and returning it to Earth. You can join the Messages to Bennu project here.
You can also join the Yuri’s Night Catalyst Competition, entering a contest to win cool prize packages including autographed merchandise and stuff that’s flown in space!! This event is open to all Yuri’s Night Catalysts, cool people who plan fun Yuri’s Night events. It’s not too late to join them.
And who knows, maybe in 10,000 years when our descendants are scattered across 12 star systems, we will all still look back at that pale blue dot and celebrate April 12th as the anniversary of the 1st brave human to take that first step out into space.
Maybe we are just ahead of our time. Or maybe it is us who will make that future happen...
If so, I think you had better come by and help us get this future started!
ISS Expedition 7 Crew, EOL, NASA, via Astronomy Picture of the Day
The Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 12, 2011 commemorates Yuri Gagarin's first flight with an image, taken from the Space Station, showing how Earth might have appeared to him, 50 years before.