The Postal Service dedicated its Sun Science stamps June 18 during a ceremony that celebrated the ongoing exploration of Earth’s nearest star.
“We hope these amazing stamps will help generate the same sense of wonder and curiosity about our star that inspired our ancestors and the scientists at NASA to want to better understand the sun, space and the myriad of possibilities that exist … in our universe and beyond,” said Thomas J. Marshall, the Postal Service’s general counsel and one of the speakers at the event.
The pane of 20 Forever stamps, available at Post Offices and usps.com, feature 10 stunning images of the sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft that keeps constant watch on the sun from geosynchronous orbit above Earth.
Heliophysics, the study of the sun and its influence on the planets and the space surrounding them, has important implications for daily life.
Although the space between the sun and Earth appears empty to human eyes, it is actually full of particles and energy from the constant flow of solar wind. This space is affected by a complex, ever-changing magnetic field that influences the entire solar system and helps better explain and predict Earth’s climate.
The stamps highlight a variety of solar-related phenomena, including plasma blasts, magnetic fields and two different views of a solar flare.
The striking colors in these images don’t represent the actual colors of the sun as perceived by human eyesight. Instead, each image is colorized by NASA according to different wavelengths that highlight specific features of solar activity.
The ceremony was held at the Greenbelt, MD, Post Office. Other participants included Veronica Johnson, a meteorologist for the ABC station in the Washington, DC, area, and Peter Argentine, a member of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, a panel that advises USPS on stamp selections.