Thursday, April 12, 2018

Science fact and science fiction for Yuri's Night 2018

Happy Yuri's Night!  As I wrote two years, this is the day of the year when I celebrate the promise of space.

I begin by looking backwards, as Amy Shira Teitel of Vintage Space explains how Ivan Ivanovich Cleared the Way for Yuri Gagarin.

Remember, the reason that it's Yuri's Night on April 12th is that this is the date when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space (in fact, he was the first to orbit the Earth).

As the image I used to illustrate this entry shows, April 12th is also important for the U.S. space program, as it was the date of the first shuttle launch.  Now that the shuttle has been retired, the one on display in Los Angeles has become a site of revelry.  Watch Yuri's Night LA 2018 Highlights to see people partying under the shuttle Endeavor.

Highlights from the Yuri's Night event at the California Science Center on April 7, 2018.
It wasn't just at the party that space science met science fiction.  TMRO's SpacePod: Yuri's Night 2018, SciFi and The Expanse promoted the event with the organizer of Yuri's Night in Los Angeles and a writer for the Hugo-winning show "The Expanse."

Athena is joined by Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides and Hallie Lambert to talk Yuri's Night, SciFi and The Expanse. And remember, if there is no Yuri's Night in your area, *you* can start one up! Head over to to find out how you can start a local party in your area.
That's enough for the promise of space for now.  Stay tuned for an entry about Apophis Day, when I observe the perils of space.  Asteroids!


  1. It may be fitting that the first "man" in space was a dummy, given that real space exploration has now been given over to robots, which have covered the whole solar system even though humans never got further than the Moon.

    Our machines have not broadcast any cabbage soup recipes, but one of the Mars rovers broadcast's song "Reach for the Stars" on Mars.

    I first heard about the "lost cosmonaut" concept via this spookily effective video, which at least inspired me to look into the claims enough to conclude that there's probably not much to it. Given the nature of the Soviet regime, though, it wouldn't have been surprising if they had used political prisoners as experimental subjects on their earliest missions.

    1. Yeah, manned spaceflight is now space exploitation (and research), not space exploration.

      I should have known that about's song from Mars. As it is, I do know about SpaceX broadcasting "Life on Mars" from the Tesla Roadster.

      That's a freaky video. I'm still inclined to believe Amy over it, as she's an academically trained historian of space, with Bachelors and Masters degrees. She discounts the lost cosmonauts and only counts the cosmonauts that the USSR officially acknowledged.