Even the United States Postal Service is gearing up for the rare solar eclipse craze with a stamp that changes when you touch it. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.
Retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, also known as ‘Mr. Eclipse,’ lives in a place known as ‘Arizona Sky Village.’
An Arizona man is behind the image on a new, first-of-its-kind stamp created by the U.S. Postal Service honoring the total solar eclipse coming this summer.
Retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, also known as “Mr. Eclipse” of Portal, Ariz., took the photo that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.
“Seeing a total eclipse is something that should be on everybody’s bucket list. It’s the most stunning, fantastic astronomical phenomena anybody could ever see with the naked eye,” Espenak said.
Known as the “Total Solar Eclipse Forever” stamp, it transforms from the image of a black, eclipsed sun into an image of the moon with the heat of your finger.
The stamp commemorates the “Great American Eclipse” that will occur Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse that will be visible from coast to coast. It will be the first total eclipse visible only in the U.S. since the country was founded in 1776, and also will be the first to sweep across the entire country in 99 years, NASA said.
The man behind the moon photo
Espenak worked for more than 30 years at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where he is still a scientist emeritus. He maintains NASA’s official eclipse website, eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov, as well as his own about eclipse photography, mreclipse.com.
He has published many books and articles about eclipse predictions and even wrote a book about every solar eclipse between 2000 BC and AD 3000, titled “The Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses.”
“I traveled to North Carolina to see the 1970 total eclipse of the sun. I expected it to be a once in a lifetime experience, but as soon as totality ended, I knew I had to see another eclipse,” Espenak wrote on his website astropixels.com. “This was a game changing event for me,”
Espenak wrote that he has since participated in 34 eclipse expeditions around the world, including Antarctica, and the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid in his honor in 2013.
Although he’s seen so many eclipses, he said “every single one is unique” and that he can’t wait to see the eclipse in the United States this summer. He plans to drive to Wyoming with at least a dozen cameras in tow for the event.
After marrying in 2006, Espenak’s wife encouraged him to find a place with dark skies to live in after retirement. He settled on Arizona Sky Village, a community dedicated to astronomy in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains, about 2½ hours southeast of Tucson.
“Nearly every house in the rural 450-acre development has its own domed observatory, complete with an array of telescopes,” The Guardian wrote. “Outdoor lights are strictly forbidden; blackout shades are required in every window of every house; and nighttime driving is discouraged.”
Espenak finished building his own observatory in 2010 and named it “Bifrost Astronomical Observatory in honor of the legendary Rainbow Bridge of Norse mythology that connected Midgard (land of mortals) to Asgard (realm of the gods),” he wrote.
More about the unique stamp and the eclipse
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets in the way of the sun, turning day to an eerie twilight.
The eclipse will start on the West Coast in Oregon and trace a 67-mile wide path east across the country, finally exiting the East Coast in South Carolina. At any given location, the total eclipse will last 2 to 3 minutes.
The stamp is the first in the U.S. to use thermochromic ink, which changes color with heat and light. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the moon, also taken by Espenak. The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.
The back of the stamp pane provides a map of the eclipse path.
The stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp, which is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. It will be issued June 20.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2qrnVe5