On Thursday, April 12, The Planetary Society will help co-sponsor the worldwide celebration of Yuri's Night, the 40th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic flight as the first human to orbit Earth.
Forty years ago, the Soviet Union launched the first human into space, heralding an incredible four decades that have seen men walk on the Moon and spaceships voyage from the sun-baked craters of Mercury to the ice-blue atmosphere of Neptune.
Those four decades also heralded amazing changes on Earth itself, seeing an end to the cold war space race between the USSR and the USA, and ushering in a new international space station built and operated by many nations.
Ironically, peaceful cooperation has become one of the legacies of the cold war space race. Yuri Gagarin, a product of the cold war, once said, "Circling the Earth in the orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty - not destroy it!"
Yuri's Night will celebrate this spirit of cooperation and the continuing adventure of exploration that Gagarin sparked with his flight 40 years ago.
Venues around the world will commemorate Yuri's Night in a variety of ways, ranging from dance parties at local clubs to discussions of current and future space missions. 61 separate events in 28 countries are scheduled, with more being added daily to the website listings. Locales hosting events include Melbourne, Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, Manila, Lisbon, Moscow, Capetown, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Houston, and even the Scott-Admunsen Base at the South Pole. All the parties will be linked together into one global web event, starting with parties in Ankara and Sydney at 1:00 AM PDT on Thursday April 12th and finishing at the end of the Vancouver party at 8:00 AM PDT on Friday, April 13th.