Global commerce in motion
The COVID-19 pandemic has been rough sailing for everyone, and especially so for seafarers on shipping vessels. As if moving more than 80% of the world's goods wasn't a big mission already, the pandemic brought about urgent needs in every corner of the globe, while also forcing travel restrictions that made shipping more complicated. Hundreds of thousands of sailors and other shipping personnel have found themselves stuck on ships much longer than planned as virus precautions impede crew changes.
So this year's World Maritime Day—always observed on the last Thursday in September—is a good day to salute the workers who help keep global commerce in motion. World Maritime Day was established by the UN to improve shipping efficiency through international standards and cooperation—on safe crew-change procedures during a pandemic, for example. Maritime Day also aims to put seafarers and their sacrifices in the spotlight. Thanks, sailors!
The snows of Fuji
This shot of Mount Fuji's symmetrical cone was taken in September 2020, showcasing the first snow of the season. The dusting proved short-lived, melting off in just a couple of days. And snow wouldn't come again until the end of December—raising new concerns about decades of rising temperatures on Fuji's slopes.
As we tiptoe toward another winter, we're cheering on Mount Fuji for a snowier season. It just isn't the same without that iconic white top!
World Rivers Day
Today we're recognizing World Rivers Day, a celebration of our planet's waterways. The event branched off in 2005 from its source, BC Rivers Day, which has been observed by British Columbians in Canada since 1980. The annual event is now celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September by millions of people in more than 100 countries. It is a day that raises public awareness about rivers around the world and encourages their conservation.
Our photo, captured by NASA's Earth-imaging Landsat 8 satellite, shows part of the Mackenzie River delta and the river's turbid waters as they flow from the far north of Canada and Alaska into the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean. The Mackenzie River—the longest river in Canada and second-largest drainage basin of any North American river after the Mississippi–plays a vital role in modulating the Arctic climate as warmer fresh water mixes with colder seawater.
Autumn comes to the Porcupines
The Escarpment Trail leads up to some of the park's best viewpoints for Lake of the Clouds and the Upper Carp River Valley. And in autumn, when this photo was taken, hikers are treated to a kaleidoscope of foliage as the hardwood forest canopy alights with fall color.
Autumn—specifically the fourth Saturday in September—is also time for National Public Lands Day. Established in 1994, the observance was created by the National Environmental Education Foundation. The main goal of National Public Lands Day is to promote volunteering to help maintain our amazing protected public lands across the nation. It's also a free day for most national and state parks—including Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Last stop before leaving the solar system
Official confirmation of Neptune's presence in our solar system came on September 23, 1846. Credit for this discovery inspired a dust-up in the international astronomy community, as scientists from both Britain and France claimed they had been the first to see the 8th and most-distant planet in our solar system. Eventually peace was brokered, and credit is now shared between the two factions. But those 19th-century astronomers were using solar system coordinates first recorded by Galileo in 1612. The Italian polymath correctly mapped Neptune's position more than 200 years earlier using a less powerful telescope. Galileo mistook Neptune for a star—but his coordinates prompted many stargazers who came along after him to look in the correct direction and identify Neptune.
An old celebration for a new season
This photo takes us to Hong Kong, where a group of engineers constructed a giant lantern sculpture called 'Rising Moon.' It's made of more than 7,000 recycled plastic water bottles with LED lights inside, to honor one of China's most important holidays, the Mid-Autumn Festival. While it's only been an 'official' public holiday in China since 2008, mention of the Mid-Autumn Festival first appeared in written historical texts as far back as 3,000 years ago. Families celebrate the holiday by lighting paper lanterns sharing a meal, traditionally at a round table. This reunion is said to bring good luck and happiness.
One of the tastier traditions of this holiday is the eating of mooncakes, which are a type of stuffed pastry served during the festival when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and brightest. These famous cakes can be sweet, stuffed with a sweet bean paste, or savory and stuffed with ham, sausage, or nuts and dried fruit. Mooncakes and are often given as gifts to friends, coworkers and family members, and the holiday is even sometimes called the Mooncake Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is not only a Chinese holiday, but is celebrated across Asia, with each nation observing this family-friendly holiday in their own unique ways.
【中秋快乐】 （ © shutterstock ）
Arrr! Can you talk like a pirate?
Ahoy matey! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day so we present to you a fortress that was really used to defend against pirates. Arr! This is Le Castella, a magnificent fortress on the Calabrian coast of Italy. For centuries it served as a defense against warring nations and rampaging pirates from the Ottoman Empire. Legend holds (and what good pirate story doesn't start that way?) that in 1536, an Algerian pirate nicknamed Redbeard stopped by here on one of his many European raiding sprees and wreaked havoc on this fortress. Gazing upon these rock walls, it’s easy to imagine area soldiers at battle with Redbeard and his pirate ships. Can you see the canons firing? Smell the plumes of smoke? Hear the clink-clink of sword on sword?
As for Talk Like a Pirate Day, the idea for such a day was dreamed up in 1995 by a couple of Oregon guys and became an unofficial holiday after writer and humorist Dave Barry helped make it go viral. Now every year on September 19, people all over the world raise their cups of grog and shout, ' Aye, aye!' Well, in our imagination, at least.