With all of our technological advancements, it’s no surprise that many people have abandoned snail mail for email. But the U.S. Postal Service has managed to combine tradition and tech in its newest postage stamp release, coming to a mailbox near you this June.
While USPS hasn’t always tried to push the envelope with its stamps, they’re trying to make their releases a bit more innovative. They’re known for commemorating new stamps with creative pomp and circumstance. The release of the Elvis stamp in 2015 took place at Graceland, and when they unveiled their Star Trek stamp, Walter Koenig made a special appearance.
Back in January, they released a new “Forever” stamp, featuring a small airplane and a sky-written sentiment of “Love.” Not only did the event take place at the Planes of Fame Air Museum, but they also held a special demonstration where a skywriter made an exact, life-sized replica of the stamp’s design. In ideal conditions, these skywriting messages can last for 20 minutes or more and can be visible from up to 30 miles away. Those in the area surrounding Chino, California on that clear winter day had to only look upwards to see an unforgettable sight.
Now, USPS is memorializing another amazing skyward phenomenon. This August, a total solar eclipse will occur over the U.S. for the first time in 38 years, and the U.S. Postal Service has come up with an imaginative way to mark the occasion.
Since NASA says the only safe way to view an eclipse is through specially designed sun filters or number 14 welder’s glasses, USPS is providing a miniature alternative. Most amazing of all, you can make the eclipse happen yourself.
Graphic designer Antonio Alcala created a stamp that features two distinct photographic layers. The first features an image of a total eclipse observed in 2006. Using thermachromic (or temperature sensitive) inks, similar to those that are used in mood rings and color-changing cans, the stamp’s image actually changes to reveal a full moon when you put your finger on the image. Even the back of the sheet of stamps holds a surprise, with a map of the upcoming eclipse’s 70-mile path that travels across 14 different states.
Every year, USPS commissions designers, illustrators, and artists to develop 25 different stamps. These Total Solar Eclipse “Forever” stamps will go on sale June 20, meaning that even as time goes by and rates go up, you can still use them for standard postage on first-class mail. It’s likely that even those who haven’t sent a real letter in a while will probably be over the moon for these.