The U.S. Solar Eclipse Stamp Changes When You Touch It

Image of an Eclipse Transforms Into the Moon Using Thermochromic Ink

Published On
May 19, 2017
Color-Changing Solar Eclipse Stamp

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The U.S. Postal Service is commemorating this summer's forthcoming solar eclipse with a special stamp using thermochromic ink, which changes color when you touch it.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp, which will mark the August 21 eclipse, transforms into an image of the moon from the heat of a finger. The stamp image is a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006. In the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink, the stamps will reveal an underlying image of the moon, also taken by Espenak. The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.

The stamp was designed by Antonio Alcala of Virginia-based Studio A. Alcala has been working with the USPS since 2011. He said this particular assignment began with a brief looking into new developments relating to scientific studies around the sun, which eventually led to a stamp commemorating the 2017 eclipse. According to Alcala, the biggest challenge of the project was "to find a way to present the topic in a way the American public would find compelling."

The stamps may be pre-ordered online in early June for delivery after June 20 and to promote them, USPS is asking people to share the news on social media using the hashtag #EclipseStamps.

The eclipse will travel a narrow path across the entire country for the first time since 1918, and will include portions of 14 states.

Aside from being just cool, period, the stamp offers a small but powerful way to promote brand U.S., especially at a time when the country has been in such flux. "Stamps are an important platform for design because they -- possibly -- travel to every home in the United States," said Alcala. "They are displayed in every post office in the country. Consequently, they are one of the few official ways, along with the flag and currency, to present our country's 'brand' in a visual medium. They are a way to communicate important aspects of our national culture to all segments of the population."