Getting ready to party on “Yuri’s Night”
April 10, 2011
Tuesday night is going to be a great party night—if you’re a nerd. About 300 parties are expected to happen from Los Angeles to Moscow, all marking the 50th anniversary of the first human to ever fly in space. [LA Times]
The celebration, being dubbed “Yuri’s Night” honors the flight of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first person to orbit the earth of April 11, 1961. Gagarin’s success kicked the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. into high gear, culminating in Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon on July 19, 1969.
Gagarin circled the Earth in 108 minutes, a coup that many Americans had trouble understanding, given the Soviets’ crude, industrial-looking spacecraft.
But Tuesday night leaves the space race behind and recognizes one of the great achievements in the history of the planet. More than 300 people are expected to show up at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles Tuesday night. The event will be subdued — no dancing or drinking allowed — but there will be an after-party at a Hollywood nightclub.
Some of the other gatherings will include scientific workshops, but they also aim to be loud and fun. In Sydney, there will be a beer-tasting contest named for Gagarin’s spacecraft, Vostok.
A Pasadena couple has been planning for this night since 1999.
The Communist Party never allowed Gagarin to fly in space again, worried that an accident could rob the U.S.S.R. of one of its greatest heroes.
Years later, Gagarin was allowed to return to the air force and resume his former job as a jet fighter pilot. In March 1968, he died in a crash. He was buried near the Kremlin Wall, not far from the grave of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.