The waning gibbous moon is pictured above the Earth's horizon from the International Space Station
A gibbous moon. International Day of Human Space Flight
Sixty-one years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to see Earth from space, with a view likely similar to this image of the waning gibbous moon from the International Space Station. With a call of 'Poyekhali!' ('Off we go!'), Gagarin launched into low Earth orbit in his Vostok 3KA spacecraft, making history in less than two hours with a complete trip around the planet. Landing in rural Russia, he became an instant worldwide celebrity—that is, after convincing puzzled locals he was a comrade and not a space alien. 'Yuri's Night' is observed today by astronomy lovers of all nationalities, and is a reminder, in this divided time, of how space exploration can help unite the world.