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On This Day: Magellan Reaches the Pacific

A Voyage That Changed the World. On this day almost 500 years ago (November 28, 1520), the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean. Magellan had departed from Spain with five ships and about 270 men on September 20, 1519, financed by the Spanish King Charles V. His plan was to try to reach the Spice Islands (present-day Indonesia) by sailing westward. He sailed along the eastern coastline of South America, hoping to find a strait that would lead to Asia. On October 21, 1520, Magellan reached the strait that now bears his name, though he called it Estrecho de Todos los Santos (Strait of All Saints). The voyage through the cold and treacherous waters of the 350-mile strait took 38 days. When he finally reached the calm and gentle waters of the ocean, he named it Mar Pacifico, which means “peaceful sea” in Portuguese.

Map of Ferdinand Magellan’s Route (Credit: AP)

Map of Ferdinand Magellan’s Route (Credit: AP)

Though he is commonly known as the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, he never actually completed the voyage. He was killed by native warriors on Mactan Island in the Philippines on April 27, 1521, over his attempt to convert them to Christianity. After Magellan’s death, Juan Sebastian Del Cano took command of the expedition. Only one ship, the Victoria, carrying 18 men and its cargo of spices, eventually returned to Spain on September 6, 1522, after the three-year journey. While Magellan did not survive the trip, he became famous for leading the first voyage around the world–a feat so inconceivable at the time that it was not repeated for another 58 years (by the English sea captain Sir Francis Drake in 1580). His voyage changed the world by revealing the true circumference of the earth, the vast extent of the Pacific Ocean, and provided practical proof that the Earth was round, not flat.

SIRS WebSelect has a wealth of editorially selected, reliable and credible Internet resources on vital issues and topics for educators and student researchers. Check out the sites below to learn about Magellan’s life, his historic voyage, and other explorers of his era.

10 Surprising Facts About Magellan’s Circumnavigation of the Globe

European Voyages of Exploration

Exploring the Early Americas

Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan’s Voyage Round the World, 1519-1522 CE

SIRS Discoverer Events Calendar

events calendar

Events Calendar in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

Calendars are a treasure trove of curriculum ideas.  Famous birthdays tie into biography units, holidays speak to multicultural themes, anniversaries and memorials are a door to history and special months are an opportunity to celebrate cultural heritage.

Within the Spotlight of the Month, SIRS Discoverer provides an interactive 12-month Events Calendar featuring birthdays, holidays and events that link directly to editor-selected content. Explore Born on This Day entries ranging  from Paul Revere and Ida B. Wells to LeBron James and Michael Phelps. Research a kaleidoscope of events and holidays including National Safety MonthWorld AIDS Day, Battle of Gettysburg, and Canada Day.

At SIRS Discoverer, every day is a day to learn!