I'm always on the lookout for everyday items with some kind of astronomy theme. Just when I'd grown really weary of seeing cutesy Sun-and-Moon motifs on everything from coffee mugs to toilet-seat covers, along comes the US Postal Service, which surprised me with some nicely done aurora stamps — one each for the northern and southern lights.
Now I can pay off my bills in style!
These stamps first appeared back in February as a pair of 84-cent stamps on a souvenir sheet to commemorate the 2007-08 International Polar Year. But those were (and are) available only online, and you really had to dig to find them.
But in their new 41-cent guise, made public on October 1st, you can get these picturesque issues in 20-stamp sheets from local post offices. And if you happen to live at the poles or otherwise outside the US, you can order them online. A mere 80 million of them were printed — so act fast while supplies last!
Now, about the stamps themselves they're real photographs, with the northern lights captured over the Talkeetna Mountains by Alaskan Fred Hirschmann and the southern lights by German photographer Per-Andre Hoffmann. There's a nice block of descriptive text on the back of the sheet and even a caption on the back of each stamp. You can learn more about this new issue in the USPS's press release.
By the way, let me thank New Jersey amateur (and postal employee) Rick Kurczewski for alerting me to the availability of these stamps. If you've come across some nifty astro-knickknack, add a comment about it below. But, please, no toilet-seat covers!