Bad Astronomy

Yuri’s Night 2009

Tonight is the start of Yuri’s night! It’s a global celebration of the launch of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, which was on April 12, 1961. It’s also the anniversary of the first Shuttle launch in 1981. Tonight kicks off a week of parties around the planet, and I bet there’s one somewhere near you. The Yuri’s night page has a map.

Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, one of the founders of Yuri’s Night, sent me a note saying that there will be a pretty cool party tonight at Goddard Space Flight Center, my old stomping ground in the Washington DC suburb of Greenbelt, MD. They’ll have a huge Hubble cake (made by Charm City Cakes, which was featured on the TV show “Ace of Cakes”), which sounds fantastic. Admission is ten bucks.

I wish I could go, but I’m here in Boulder. Tonight I’ll be with my in-laws, celebrating their own anniversary, but perhaps I’ll raise a glass to Yuri. At the time, his government and mine were not on the best of terms, but even then some folks had a glimmer that in the future things would be better, and those differences would pale when viewed through the other end of time’s telescope. And here we are, not even half a century later, toasting the memory of the first human in space.

May he have billions of successors.