Yuri's Day (and Night)

| | Photo by O.P.Kopchevsky|

On this day 46 years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to be blasted into space. Naturally, Russians have celebrated this anniversary with vigor since its first occurrence the year following in the form of Cosmonautics Day, an annual holiday with an accompanying bevy of commemorative coins, stamps and magnificent pieces of authoritarian architecture like the Moscow monument pictured here.

While the rest of the world will naturally have a hard time matching the coolness of a towering, 100%-titanium Gagarin/Voltron hybrid (O to be an architect in the Soviet era!), an impressive international tribute has begun to emerge in the form of Yuri's Night. Since its foundation in 2001 by three lovers of all things space, the affair has sprouted parties in over 35 countries attracting space luminaries such as Ray Bradbury, Peter Diamandis and, ahem, Lance Bass. And if you're worried about being labeled a godless Commie, don't worry—April 12 is also the anniversary of the first Space Shuttle mission back in 1981.

From the website:
"Whether in someone's living room, a swinging nightclub or a world-class science museum, Yuri's Night events all have one thing in common - people who are excited about space exploration and who want to join together to celebrate it."

Check it out to find a party near you. —John Mahoney