Yuri's Night: Ann Arbor space enthusiasts plan celestial celebration at Necto
Ann Arbor is going astronomical.
University of Michigan aerospace engineering master’s student Greg Wagner is actively recruiting local space enthusiasts to attend Ann Arbor’s first celebration of Yuri’s Night - an annual festive gathering to promote space travel and scientific research.
Photo courtesy of Yuri's Night
April 12 is globally known as Yuri’s Night - named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human to enter space on April 12, 1961. In 2009, organizers counted Yuri’s Night celebrations in 217 cities in 47 countries.
Wagner, who expects to receive his master’s degree in May, was stunned to find out that Ann Arbor did not have a Yuri’s Night party.
“It’s kind of weird that there hasn’t been a Yuri’s Night before because in the University of Michigan there’s so many space activities. There’s active missions in deep space that are being partially managed within the university,” Wagner said.
“This is bigger than myself. There’s a big effort in Ann Arbor to promote entrepreneurial activities and there’s a huge potential for there to be more new space companies,” Wagner said. “There could be more here, because there’s such a wealth of resources here.”
Wagner, a full-time engineer for Ann Arbor-based Accio Energy, said he’s likely headed to the University of California at San Diego this fall to earn his doctorate degree.
But he still hopes to encourage interest in space issues and the Ann Arbor space technology industry through Yuri’s Night.
His group, the local chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, is organizing a Yuri’s Night gathering at 9 p.m. Wednesday at an admittedly unlikely destination for space nerds: downtown club Necto. The Michigan Electronic Dance Music Association and the U-M Russian Student Association are also participating in the event.
The cost for the event is $5, and more than 250 people have already registered on Facebook to attend. It's open to the public.
Don’t expect this to be your typical Necto event. Think space costume party.
It may seem silly, but Wagner hopes to generate something concrete.
“People watch movies all the time about things that happen in space, but no one really connects that to actual engineering that’s done on earth, not just in the movies,” Wagner said. “I want to bring that out more and connect people and make people realize that they do care and make them more active.”
Yuri would be proud.
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