You won’t need protective glasses to see the total eclipse that is coming to a post office near you.
The U.S. Postal Service is issuing a one-of-a-kind stamp Tuesday ahead of the coast-to-coast, total eclipse set to appear on Aug. 21. Thanks to thermochromic ink, a touch of the finger transforms the stamp’s image from a solar eclipse into the moon.
The total solar eclipse will be the first visible on the U.S. mainland since 1979 and the first to travel a narrow path across the entire country since 1918.
“What I’m hoping is that this highlights that stamps are useful for multiple reasons, not simply to get things from point A to point B, but to see the beauty of stamps,” said Scott English, executive director of the American Philatelic Society.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the light from the sun. Weather permitting, anyone in North America can see August's partial eclipse, including those in D.C., according to NASA.
Viewers in the 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina are in for a special treat. For a few minutes in that area, the moon will completely block the sun, giving them a glimpse of the sun’s corona, or extended outer atmosphere.
The stamp’s image depicts a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, in 2006, taken by retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, known as "Mr. Eclipse." He’s been collecting eclipse stamps since he saw his first one as a teenager.
The back of the stamp pane shows a map tracking the coming eclipse’s path.
“A total eclipse of the Sun is simply the most beautiful, stunning and awe-inspiring astronomical event you can see with the naked eye, but you’ve got to be in the 70-mile-wide path of totality that runs across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina,” Espenak said.
A pane of 16 Forever stamps will be available Tuesday at post offices. Pre-order now by going here.