The Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp is the first from the USPS to use thermochromic ink, which is sensitive to heat.
Although it won’t be released until next month, it can be pre-ordered today.
When the new stamp it is touched, the stamp’s image changes from a blacked out sun with a silvery corona to a bright picture of the pockmarked moon. It was created in commemoration of the Aug. 21 full solar eclipse – the first show of totality in the U.S. in 38 years.
The stamp will be issued June 20 in a special ceremony in Wyoming.
“It’s the first interactive stamp,” said Alan Bush, a West Palm Beach philatelist who buys stamp collections. “It’s fascinating and should be more of a draw for the public than your typical Donald Duck or Elvis stamps.”
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.
In a swath of the country from South Carolina to Oregon, darkness will reign in the middle of the day for a full two minutes and 40 seconds as the moon slips between the sun and Earth casting a shadow 100 miles wide.
Astrophysicist Fred Espenak, known as Mr. Eclipse, took the photos used for the stamp. The image of the full eclipse is from a March 29, 2006 event seen in Jalu, Libya. When warmed by touch, the image turns to a full moon, and reverts to the solar eclipse as it cools.
On the back of the stamp is the track of the solar eclipse across the U.S.
“If you can get into the path to see the total phase of the eclipse, it is unlike any natural phenomenon anyone has ever seen before,” Espenak said. “It’s something that should be on everyone’s bucket list and I’m happy they are coming out with a stamp to raise public awareness about this opportunity.”
Espenak, who has seen 20 total solar eclipses, said the post office contacted him last summer for suggestions about the stamp. The photo of the full moon used in the stamp was taken from Espenak’s home in Portal, Ariz.