April 12 - Yuri's Night

  Posted on April 12, 2022

This is an update of my post published on April 12, 2011:


Every year on April 12 we celebrate Yuri's Night, in honor of the first human space flight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Another name for the celebration is World Space Party. It's basically space-themed parties, all over the world, combined with educational outreach through museums, planetariums, and schools - all designed to garner more interest for space exploration!

On April 12, 1961, the Soviet space program launched the Vostok spacecraft with Yuri inside. The spacecraft circled the Earth one time, taking about 108 minutes, and when the spacecraft reached 7 kilometers of altitude (23,000 feet!), Gagarin ejected from it and parachuted to the ground.

Vostok 1, by Alexandr Ugryumov

There were some glitches in the flight, and Gagarin ended up landing miles away from the expected landing site. A farmer and her daughter saw the strange sight of a man in an orange spacesuit and large white helmet walking towards them, dragging his parachute behind him, and (a
ccording to Gagarin) they backed away from him in fear. He said, "Don't be afraid. I am a Soviet citizen like you, who has descended from space, and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!"
Illustration by Marco Trevesian

Read more about Yuri's flight here and Yuri's Night here.

Yuri Gagarin was the first person to see Earth from space. There was no camera on the Vostok, but the modern photo above shows what he saw. Gagarin said:

"Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship, I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!"

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