First Solar Eclipse Over the U.S. in 38 Years 

U.S. #5211 – The 2017 Solar Eclipse stamp as issued.

Today, August 21, 2017, marks the first total solar eclipse of the sun to pass over the United States since 1979.

A total solar eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, completely blocking its light for several minutes. As the moon continues its orbit, different areas of the Earth experience totality (full coverage of the sun) at different times. Some may only see a partial eclipse while others may not see an eclipse at all.

U.S. #5211 – The Solar Eclipse stamp when heat has been applied.

August 21, 2017, marks the first total solar eclipse to cross both U.S. coasts since 1918. It is also the first time since 1257 a total solar eclipse can be viewed only from within the continental United States.

Looking directly into the sun at any time can cause permanent damage to the human eye. For this reason eclipse glasses must be worn to watch the event. These lenses protect the retina with specially designed filters that block harmful solar rays, something normal sunglasses cannot do. Telescopes and cameras should also have solar filters attached to prevent possible damage to sensors and other equipment.

The USPS created the first heat sensitive stamp to commemorate the awe-inspiring total solar eclipse. The center of the design appears black at first, but when warmed, reveals the moon with the sun’s rays extending behind it.

U.S. #5211 FDC – Solar Eclipse First Day Cover with Digital Color Postmark.

Click here for more about the eclipse from NASA, plus live video streams of the eclipse.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Great article. I witnessed an eclipse in 1963. We are looking forward to seeing this one later on today.

  2. We’re just barely in the path of totality (about 1/4 mile inside the southern edge), and so we’ll be out in our lawn chairs in the back yard in about 80 minutes to watch the show!

  3. Don’t have to see it to say “I was there” Just like the day man set his foot upon the moon. I was there.
    We are a little south for this total but will experience on in about six year. Nice stamp but everything is “heat sensitive” in this part of the country.

  4. This is truly an innovative design, a heat sensitive stamp. I will be going to the post office today to see if I can get one. If not, I may have to mail away for one, but I’d like to get a couple today and get one postmarked today. Won’t that be something special to pass on to your kids?

  5. I am watching on CBS special report 2017 Solar Total Eclipse since 1:00 pm via DVR today. It is so exciting to see the total eclipse wow.

  6. I just returned from the Post Office. Yes, they are selling these new stamps. I addressed one envelope to myself and mailed it with the new stamp so I’ll have one postmarked today. You have to buy the stamps in sheets of 16 stamps at 49 cents each, so I now have a sheet minus one stamp that I’ll use to mail stuff to friends and family. They are really unique since the black of the moon disappears when heated and the moon becomes visible with the corona and rays of the sun visible around its outer edges. So far, though, the stamps changed from black to the moon, but have not changed back, so I wonder if its a one way street?

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