UB Yuri’s Night 2008 – The Spectrum

UB to host world’s biggest space party


   This Saturday, UB students will join 49 other countries around the world in celebrating the exploration of space. Yuri’s Night, a global event that commemorates accomplishments in the field of space exploration, will be hosted by UB students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UB SEDS).

    The event, named for Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth, has become what is widely referred to as the “Cinco de Mayo of space.”

   “It caught on with college students and SEDS, so we brought it to Buffalo,” said Nick Alterio, UB SEDS secretary and a junior aerospace and mechanical engineering major.

   According to the event’s official Web site, Yuri’s Night marks the anniversary of Yuri’s historic journey into space on April 12, 1961. Traveling on behalf of the Soviet Union, Yuri was just 27 years old when he embarked on the journey in the Vostok-1 capsule. His flight, which encircled the Earth in 108 minutes, made him an international hero.

   The event also commemorates the launch of Columbia, the first US Space Shuttle, on April 12, 1981. This maiden voyage, commanded by John Young, launched exactly 20 years after Yuri’s landmark journey.

   UB’s Yuri’s Night celebration is scheduled for Saturday in the Center for the Arts from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will be headlined by local band The Waves, a group that fuses rock, powerpop and indie vibes. Other festivities include a local campus musical group, two guest speakers and free food. Party packs containing space-related items will be distributed to get students in the spaced-out mood.

   “It’s going to be a great time,” Alterio said.

   The first Yuri’s Night was willed into reality at the United Nations Space Generation Advisory Council Conference in September of 2000. Co-founded by Loretta and George Whitesides, it was held on April 12, 2001 in Sydney, Australia. It was simultaneously celebrated in 64 locations, including a large blowout party in Los Angeles. The event spread to cities such as Dublin, London, Istanbul, Vancouver, Boston and Cape Town. This year, UB will join what has snowballed into 168 parties to be held on all seven continents.

   According to UB SEDS President Brad Cheetham, last year’s event was one of the largest Yuri’s night parties throughout the northeast. He hopes that this year will be just as much of a success.

   “This year, we’re going to outdo ourselves,” Cheetham said. “We have some donations from local businesses. It’s going to be a fun hangout, and students get to eat food, listen to speakers – all in the name of fun.”

    According to Cheetham, UB SEDS promotes the “final frontier” by piquing the interest of students. The student-run organization invites members across all disciplines of study. They strive to provide students with internship opportunities, and foster communication about development of space in a variety of academic fields, Cheetham said.

   “Our goals are to promote space and inform people about why we think space is important,” Cheetham said.

   In conjunction with Yuri’s Night festivities the Mechanical Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Association will hold a barbecue, which is scheduled to begin promptly at the conclusion of the Yuri’s Night main events.

   The celebration is free for all, and students are encouraged to join the world this weekend to celebrate the glorious accomplishments in space discovery. As Yuri famously said after his voyage,

   “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!”

   For more information on Yuri’s Night, visit www.yurisnight.net.

   Additional information about UB SEDS can be found on their Web site at www.ubseds.org.

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