Nation & World

‘They are so cool’: Total Eclipse of the Sun transforming postal stamps are here

USPS released its ‘transforming’ Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp on Tuesday.
USPS released its ‘transforming’ Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp on Tuesday. Associated Press

The first reviews are flying in: Fans of space and stamps think the U.S. Postal Service’s new heat-activated solar eclipse stamps are out of this world.

The special edition Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamps went on sale Tuesday.

In Columbia, Mo., people waited in a line inside the main post office Tuesday morning to buy the stamps, the Columbia Missourian reported. They sold out within four hours.

“They are so cool,” Gary Senn told the Aiken Standard in South Carolina, where he bought his stamps. “I think everybody should go out and buy some.”

The stamp has a high novelty factor, the first in the United States to use heat-sensitive, thermochromic ink. It depicts a total solar eclipse but transforms into the underlying image of a full moon when the heat from your finger heats up the ink.

When the stamp cools off, the solar eclipse image returns.

The stamps commemorate the upcoming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, the first seen in the contiguous U.S. since 1979.

The back of the stamp sheet has a map showing the narrow path of the eclipse. Millions of people in 14 states, including Kansas and Missouri, will be able to see the total eclipse. The rest of the country will see a partial eclipse.

“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,” Scott English, executive director of the American Philatelic Society, told NBC Washington.

The Postal Service dedicated the stamp at the University of Wyoming Art Museum on Tuesday. Wyoming Public Media reports people from around the country attended.

“It is absolutely gorgeous,” Lika Guthakurta, a NASA scientist who helped design the stamp, told the Wyoming media outlet.

“It’s demonstrating new technology. And it is actually, for so many Americans who may not be in the path of the totality, you are bringing that eclipse close to home.”

Senn, the director of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken, bought “every stamp they had” at the post office he visited Tuesday.

“It works beautifully,” Senn told the Aiken Standard. “I am very impressed. I kind of had high expectations for what they would be like, and they have exceeded my expectations, which is not necessarily an easy thing to do. They did a great job.”

In Columbia, postmaster Mark S. Rask told the Missourian he planned to order a “couple thousand” more sheets because he expects the interest to grow. He bought a few sheets for himself, too.

“It’s always great to do a fun stamp that people will get excited for,” Rask said.

The stamps are also available on the USPS website. A pane of 16 costs $7.84. Individual stamps cost the same as Forever stamps, 49 cents.