Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yuri's Night Approaches

Yuri's Night, April 12, is the anniversary of the first manned space mission, flown by Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok I. Worldwide Yuri's Night parties mark the event. Atlanta's, which will feature a barbecue and space trivia (oh, yeah) will be at Georgia Tech, but you can google to find one near you.

This year, to mark the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, Yuri's Night is featuring some awesome contests.

One, called A Call to Humanity, is looking for people who can create a print ad that "summons a sense of wonder at the utter vastness of the cosmos and our overwhelmingly fragile place in it. We want a piece that that awakens a feeling of unity with all mankind, and that we are up to the challenge of becoming a species worthy of settling the galaxy - and that Yuri’s launch was merely the first step in an endless human journey to the stars."

The winner, according to the contest, would capture the spirit and tone of NASA's YouTube video, The Frontier is Everywhere (above), in a print medium to spread the meme to another million people. He or she would win a Zero-G flight in Russia along with a $1,000 travel voucher.

Another, being held by the Open Luna Foundation, involves creation of a video that would be a tribute to the 50th anniversary of space flight. The prize is $500.

Finally, the one even non-creative people can handle, is just a sweepstakes. You sign up, and, if you win, you will get to see a Soyuz liftoff from Baikonur in Kazakhstan (with a $1,000 travel voucher).

Yuri Gagarin -- and the rest of the early cosmonauts and astronauts -- gave new meaning to the word "courage." They were doing something that had never been done, something that changed forever the way humanity looks at itself and at the sky, without any assurance that they would survive the challenge. Anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky in wonder should celebrate those heroes.

And if you can get a cool prize for doing so, so much the better!