There are quite a few celebrations of space at this time of year. Friday, for example, was International Space Day, while Saturday was Astronomy Day. And tomorrow is National Astronaut Day. The date was chosen because the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, rocketed into space on May 5th of 1961.
And today celebrates some fictional accomplishments in space. It’s Star Wars Day. May the Fourth was picked as a pun on the line “may the force be with you.”
Star Wars Day started in Toronto almost a decade ago, and caught on around the world. In 2012, Boris Johnson — now prime minister of the United Kingdom — celebrated his election as mayor of London on Star Wars Day:
JOHNSON: Thank you very, very much everybody, and may the fourth be with you!
In 2014, an astronaut beamed greetings from the International Space Station. And minor league baseball teams have worn Star Wars-themed uniforms on the date.
Some German astronomers may celebrate at their own version of R2-D2. In late 2018, Hubert Zitt and colleagues at Zweibrück Observatory repainted a 15-foot telescope dome to look like the droid. It became famous when Luke Skywalker himself — actor Mark Hamill — tweeted about it a few months later.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for specific dates to celebrate the universe and space exploration. Look up at the sky on any night, read a book, check out the latest pictures from Mars — or, yes, watch a movie. And may the fourth be with you.
Script by Damond Benningfield