Yuri's Night is the unofficial holiday that is celebrated annually on April 12th to commemorate mankind's epic history of space exploration. In honor of Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, the first human to launch into space on April 12, 1961, and the inaugural Space Shuttle mission that lifted off twenty years later on the same date, this world-wide "space party" is recognized in sixty countries.
The holiday was publicly created by the husband and wife duo George and Loretta Whitesides, and friend Trish Garner in 2000, although the concept took shape the previous year during their time at the Space Generation Forum at the UNISPACE III conference in Vienna, Austria. Loretta is a long-time public speaker and author on the topic of space exploration, and George is the CEO of Virgin Galactic, a firm developing commercial space vehicles at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The first planned Yuri's Night event was held in 2001, exactly forty years after the launch of Vostok 1, the spacecraft Yuri orbited around the Earth in. Due to the success of Yuri's Night over the years, it is now a recognized independent, non-profit organization. Their mission bullet-points include: empowering leaders, building communities, bridging cultures, encouraging science literacy and promoting a sustainable and peaceful future.
Interested in learning more about Yuri's Night or participating in a celebration in your neck o' the woods? Check out this link to get more info!
Want some amazing Yuri's night swag? Our Planetary Society partner, Thomas Romer over at Chop Shop, has a whole collection of awesome YN goodies! Check it out.