Aliens Always Welcome


I’ll admit it:  I’m a big old geek.  I’m not particularly good at it, but I think science is cool, fascinating stuff.  So, when I heard about Yuri’s Night — a worldwide collection of parties and celebrations, commemorating Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s April 12, 1961 launch as the first man in space — I thought it might be interesting.  Plus, as a former student of the Soviet Union, I was particularly interested in celebrating a cosmonaut.  Then, I saw the key, deciding factor:  the party’s web site stated that “Sci-Fi Attire is encouraged”.  So, on Saturday night, I went to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to join the Yuri’s Night celebration.  It was a geek-fest of epic proportions!

Aliens Always Welcome

Aliens Always Welcome

DC’s party happened at the Goddard Visitor’s center, which usually plays host to schoolkids, with occasional visiting dignitaries (on Queen Elizabeth II’s most recent visit to the US, she stopped by for a few hours).  Saturday night, however, the place was filled with Jedi knights, cosmonauts and astronauts, Sith Lords, Anime babes, a giant Hubble-shaped cake, and NASA staffers wearing “I am a Scientist!” pins who wandered around the Center’s museum space answering questions and flirting.

Indeed, as soon as my friend and I pulled in to the parking lot, I knew it would be a great night.  There was a fully-armored Endor Storm Trooper waiting for the shuttle bus!  The Star Wars geek in me squealed with joy, but was sort of sad that I’d left my light saber at home (it didn’t fit in my purse).  When we got off said bus, more Storm Troopers were waiting with silent greetings, along with some Jedi knights and Darth Vader.  Once we got in to the building, we heard (over DJ Scientific’s spins from the dance floor and Middle Distance Runner rocking another room) the Lost In Space ROBOT warning Will Robinson.  Fantastic!

We wandered around, had some cake, and found our way into the Goddard’s theatre, where “Science on a Sphere” was projecting the Earth in all its blue glory.  This cool piece of tech consists of a carbon composite sphere on which four projectors around the room can display images of all kinds.  We got to see different satellite images of the Earth, Sun, Moon, and Mars, and the stars.  Outside, a few folks had set up their telescopes to share the real thing with anyone who wanted to see.  One of these kind astronomers let me have a look, and I got up close and personal with the man on the moon.

I highly recommend giving the place a visit.  And I hope to see you at next year’s Yuri’s Night celebration!

1 Comment so far

  1. artbyjared on April 8th, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

    Actually, you dont really have to wait until next year, since the anniversary of the first human spaceflight is April 12 (1961) we get two chances to celebrate this year!
    There is a second Yuri’s Night party in DC this Saturday April 11 called "Countdown to Yuri’s Night" at the Warehouse. More info at

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