Though August's total solar eclipse will sweep across only part of the country on August 21, the Post Office is bringing the excitement of the rare event to postal customers with a newly available stamp.
Well, it's more like two stamps in one, thanks to a special heat-sensitive ink. The warmth of a finger on the stamp reveals the underlying image of the Moon and reverts to the eclipse once the thermochromic ink cools.
“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,” Jim Cochrane, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer of the United States Postal Service, said in a press release.
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) then traveling roughly 2,500 miles east, exiting near Charleston at 2:48 p.m.
In Columbia, the eclipse will begin at 1:13 p.m. Totality will begin at 2:41 p.m. and lasts three minutes. The eclipse will end at 4:06 p.m.
The path of totality will travel through portions of 14 states over 90 minutes.
SCETV has a website of resources dedicated to the Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse event.
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.
This stamp image is a photograph taken by retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak of Portal, Arizona, 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.
The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp, which is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.
Thermochromic inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect. To help ensure longevity, the Postal Service is offering a special envelope to hold and protect the stamp pane for a nominal fee.