Sydney - Mar 28, 2003
For the third time, space enthusiasts around the globe will gather on April 12 to celebrate the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space. Major Yuri Gagarin became the world's first space traveller when his spacecraft, Vostok 1, was launched into orbit on April 12, 1961.
Gagarin completed a single orbit of the Earth before parachuting to a landing in the Soviet Union. His flight has been commemorated in Russia for decades, but it is only in the past three years that wide-scale celebrations have been staged on an international scale.
It is upsetting that this year's Yuri's Night is being held in the shadow of the worst space tragedy in years, as we mourn the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and her crew.
World affairs have also been strained by war in the Middle East, global fears of terrorism and rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. Thoughts will certainly be turned towards these events at Yuri's Night, but they should not dim the hope that Yuri's Night should inspire.
The history of the world is a record of wars, disasters and tragedies, yet it is also a record of our endurance in the face of astonishing obstacles. Some scientists believed that humans could never survive in space at all before Major Gagarin returned to Earth in a healthy state.
Today, we are struggling to readjust human spaceflight to a new set of difficulties. It will take time and effort, but we will overcome these problems, and voyage further into space. Our celebrations on April 12 remind us of the need to keep moving and striving for greater goals, in space, and in other areas of human endeavour.
Yuri's Night attracts hundreds of people to dozens of parties, outings and celebrations in various cities and locations. It's a great way for anyone with an interest in space exploration to touch base with others, and remember one of the greatest events in modern history.
Celebrations for Yuri's Night have become as diverse in their form as their geographical spread. In some parts of the world, people will attend lectures or gaze at the heavens above through telescopes.
Others will stage dinner parties. One of the most interesting events of all was a dance party staged in the USA, complete with guests walking around in replica spacesuits! But not everything happens after dark. Sydney will celebrate its own event during the daytime, for families with children.
If you've never taken part in a Yuri's Night even before, visit the Web site for the event at www.yurisnight.net. Take a tour of photographs of previous events and commentaries on the parties. It's all about space, but it's also about having a good time.
It's probable that a Yuri's Night event will be staged somewhere near you, but you can always organise your own. All it takes is a bit of creativity and a collection of your friends. Yuri's Night can be celebrated with something as easy as a party in your own home or dinner out.
Just tell the organisers (listed on the Web site) about your plans, and you'll be registered as one of the next events. Although Yuri's Night has its own form of central planning and support, most of the events themselves are organised by local teams, working independently at a grassroots level.
If you can't attend a Yuri's Night event, join in on the Net! The Web site contains details on chat forums that will provide live commentaries on events taking place around the world. Some party events will also send live audio, images or video onto the Internet. You can interact with people at events in different countries, and join them in a virtual sense.
Yuri's Night is for anyone with a sense of history, an enthusiasm for spaceflight, or an interest in a pleasant evening out. This year, for the first time, the event will fall on a Saturday, which will hopefully swell the ranks of attendees. Visit the Web site soon and join in this upcoming event.
Dr Morris Jones has lectured at two previous Yuri's Night events and will speak again in Sydney this year. He is a Sydney-based writer and lecturer. Email morrisjonesNOSPAMhotmail.com. Replace NOSPAM with @ to send email.
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Yuri Plus 41
Sydney - Apr 08, 2002
It's only a year since the world staged the inaugural Yuri's Night celebrations, but so much has changed on Earth, and in space. In 2001, we contemplated a world that had shed most of the tensions associated with the cold war, and watched as several nations assembled the world's first International Space Station.
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