Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel in space back on April 12, 1961, and the Yuri’s Night World Space Party marking the occasion is Tuesday. The night actually should be a week or so as various organizations mess with the calendar a little and observe Yuri’s Night when it’s most convenient locally.
In Seattle we’re calling in the Martians to celebrate Yuri’s Night. Aditya Sood, one of the producers of the film The Martian, will speak at the Museum of Flight at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 16. Sood will discuss the making of the movie and talk about his favorite moments in the story. He’ll also attend a meet and greet reception after the talk.
The Yuri’s Night website lists scores of registered events. The only one in the state of Washington is at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at Pearson Air Museum at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The free, family-friendly activities will include the construction and launching of pressure bottle rockets and a talk about space exploration from the Oregon L5 Society. Dr. Cameron Smith will be present with his home-built high altitude pressure suit and his high altitude helium balloon, from which he intends to test his pressure suit later this year. Weather permitting, the evening will finish with an outdoor star gazing tour led by a national park ranger.
The Portland State Aerospace Society, a student aerospace group at Portland State University with decades of experience in high-powered amateur rocketry, will host a Yuri’s Night Party at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 in the engineering building of Portland State University. Planned events include a “space race” with challenges and games, technology displays from local rocketry and space groups, engineering labs open to visitors, and refreshments. They will also screen the film First Orbit, a reconstruction of what Yuri would have seen on his journey.
The third Friday planetarium shows at Pacific Planetarium in Bremerton will be held Friday, April 15 with shows at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. Explore Mars from above, below, and all around as they compare it to the other rocky planets. The folks at the planetarium just updated their website, and they’re still working some of the bugs out. For example, I’m not able to find the “buy tickets” link that they used to have. We expect you can get tickets at the door. For people coming from the east side of the sound, the planetarium is less than a mile from the Bremerton ferry dock; you could walk it and avoid the pricey ticket for your vehicle on the ferry!
The Seattle Astronomical Society plans its free monthly public star parties for 8 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at two locations: Green Lake in Seattle and Paramount Park in Shoreline. Bad weather cancels the star parties; watch the SAS website or social media for updates.
The Tacoma Astronomical Society will host one of its free public nights at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Fort Steilacoom campus of Pierce College. There will be a presentation about space exploration, and observing if weather permits.
Up in the sky
The Moon will be near Jupiter next Sunday. This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope magazine and The Sky This Week from Astronomy have other observing highlights for the week.