New ‘transforming’ Forever Stamp commemorates August 21 total solar eclipse
LARAMIE, Wyo. — The United States Postal Service will dedicate a first-of-its-kind Forever stamp that transforms from an image of a solar eclipse to an image of the moon with the heat of a finger.
The new Forever Stamp, which is being issued to commemorate the upcoming total eclipse of the sun on August 21, will be available in panes of 16 at post offices on Tuesday. It will be introduced at a dedication ceremony Tuesday at the Art Museum of the University of Wyoming.
“With the release of these amazing stamps using thermochromic ink, we’ve provided an opportunity for people to experience their own personal solar eclipse every time they touch the stamps,” USPS Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Jim Cochrane said in a press release. “As evidenced by this stamp and other amazing innovations, the Postal Service is enabling a new generation to bridge the gap and tighten the connection between physical mail and the digital world.”
A total eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon completely blocks the visible solar disk from view, casting a shadow on Earth. The 70-mile-wide shadow path of the eclipse, known as the “path of totality,” will traverse the country diagonally, appearing first in Oregon (mid-morning local time) and exiting some 2,500 miles east and 90 minutes later off the coast of South Carolina (mid-afternoon local time) passing through portions of 14 states.
A total solar eclipse provides us with the only chance to see the Sun’s corona — its extended outer atmosphere — without specialized instruments. During the total phase of an eclipse the corona appears as a gossamer white halo around the black disk of the Moon, resembling the petals of a flower reaching out into space.
Tens of millions of people in the United States hope to view this rare event, which has not been seen on the U.S. mainland since 1979. The eclipse will travel a narrow path across the entire country for the first time since 1918. The back of the stamp pane provides a map of the August 21 eclipse path and times it may appear in some locations. Visit NASA’s website to view detailed maps of the eclipse’s path.
This stamp image is a photograph taken by retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak of Portal, AZ, who is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on total solar eclipses with 27 under his belt. The photograph shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.