The following is part 1 of the article from the American Philatelist, stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.
Late summer and early fall continued to be a busy time for new issues from the U.S. Postal Service; so much that we are spreading out our coverage in the final months of 2022.
This month we look at two releases focused on nature and science from below the surface of our waters to the highest reaches above our skies. The first is a set of 15 stamps with photographs from national marine sanctuaries and the second is an artistic rendering of the most far-reaching telescope the world has ever launched.
Five Christmas stamps in two releases in September help mailers prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
The first issue in autumn features artwork from the world’s most popular cartoonist – Charles Schulz – who created and maintained the Peanuts gang for five decades.
All of the new stamps are domestic first-class Forever stamps sold for 60 cents upon their release, but which will forever be good for first-class mail.
National Marine Sanctuaries
Several products associated with the Marine Sanctuaries stamps are available from the USPS here.
The U.S. Postal Service honors 50 years of U.S. national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments with a pane of 16 face-different National Marine Sanctuaries stamps dedicated in an official ceremony August 5 at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California.
U.S. national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments have protected areas with special ecological, cultural and historical significance. The 16 stamps showcase the abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystems that can be found throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System.
“Protecting our environment is one of the most important things we can do now and for future generations,” said William D. Zollars, a member of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, who served as the dedicating official at the dedication ceremony. “The habitats protected by these marine sanctuaries and monuments help ensure the survival of threatened and endangered species.”
Zollars was joined by Paul Scholz, deputy assistant administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service, and Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and co-chair of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
“We especially hope (these stamps) inspire people to visit a national marine sanctuary,” Scholz said. “Perhaps, the stamps will even inspire a child who one day grows up to become a marine biologist, environmental educator, science communicator, or a passionate protector of our blue planet.”
The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, which established a framework for designating national marine sanctuaries, was signed into law on Oct. 23, 1972. Today, the National Marine Sanctuary System is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Encompassing more than 620,000 square miles, the sanctuary system currently comprises 15 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments, stretching from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific, and from the Florida Keys to the Pacific Northwest.
Each of the 16 stamps features a photograph from a site that is part of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Art director Greg Breeding designed the pane. A map of the system illustrated by Todd M. Detwiler is printed on the back of the pane.
The stamps in the first row include a balloonfish photographed by Daryl Duda in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, followed by a pair of red-footed footed boobies photographed by Mark Sullivan in The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The next two stamps feature images captured by staff photographers for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Elliott Hazen photographed the breaching humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary; Matt McIntosh photographed the sea stacks in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
In the second row, the first stamp features a photograph of Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary at sunset taken by Peter Turcik. Norbert Wu photographed the images shown on the next two stamps: the Farallon Islands, a refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is surrounded by waters protected as part of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and elkhorn coral in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Hawaiian monk seal on the final stamp was photographed in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary by Ed Lyman, NOAA.
The stamps in row three offer an image of a queen angelfish taken by G.P. Schmahl, NOAA, in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, followed by a sea otter photographed by Wu in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. On the next stamp, young rockfish explore the reef in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary in an image captured by Joseph Hoyt, NOAA. Atlantic sea nettles like the one on the last stamp, photographed by Michael Durham, can be found in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.
All of the stamps in the final row feature images captured by NOAA staff photographers. Jeff Harris photographed the sea lions in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary; Greg McFall photographed the sand tiger shark in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The photograph of Rose Atoll, part of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, was taken by Wendy Cover; Kate Thompson captured the image of an icy shoreline in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
James Webb Space Telescope
Several products associated with the James Webb Space Telescope stamp is available from the USPS here.
The U.S. Postal Service traveled where it has gone many times before when it issued a stamp September 8 commemorating NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most complex telescope ever deployed in space.
Since it issued two space-oriented stamps in 1948 – those commemorating the Mt. Palomar Observatory and Fort Bliss Centennial – the U.S. has released more than 100 stamps with space themes, many of them in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
A dedication ceremony for the new Forever stamp was held at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Participants included Anton Hajjar, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors vice chairman; Robert D. Cabana, NASA associate administrator and former astronaut; Ellen R. Stofan, undersecretary for science and research at the Smithsonian Institution; Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for the Webb telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Erin Smith, Webb telescope deputy observatory project scientist at NASA Goddard; and Elliot Gruber, director of the National Postal Museum.
“When anyone who uses these stamps looks at this telescope, I want them to see what I see — its incredible potential to reveal new and unexpected discoveries that help us understand the origins of the universe, and our place in it,” Cabana said at the ceremony. “This telescope is the largest international space science program in U.S. history, and I can’t wait to see the scientific breakthroughs it will enable in astronomy.”
The image on the stamp, produced in panes of 20, is not new or unique to the stamp. Artist James Vaughan’s digitally created depiction of the telescope against a dazzling starscape was first used on the cover of the February 2016 edition of Science magazine, which contracted Vaughan for the illustration.
At the time, Vaughn described his art style as “adventurous and romantic,” especially when compared to the “accurate, but soulless, computer renderings” typically seen in industry publications. “Because of my unique background and training; I am able to combine digital technology, with classical painting and artistic aesthetics, to create pictures that appeal to the heart as well as the mind,” Vaughn said in a 2016 blog post on LinkedIn about the Science cover, according to the News 5 Cleveland website. Vaughan resides in Kent in northeast Ohio.
The telescope was 18 gold-coated mirror segments — hexagons that combine to form its 21-foot-wide primary mirror — that can pick up faint heat waves representing the universe’s first accessible starlight from billions of light years away. Opposite, supported by three struts, is the secondary mirror. Below are the telescope’s solar shield, computers, control machinery, and the solar array that provides power.
“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula (NIRCam), an initial image from the Webb Space Telescope.
The words “Webb Space Telescope” appear in white along the bottom edge of the stamp. “USA/FOREVER” runs vertically up the left-hand edge. In the selvage, at top, “James Webb Space Telescope” is printed in gold against the darkness of space, with an image of a star in a gap between the title’s last two words. Additional stars and galaxies appear in the background. This image was taken to confirm the perfect alignment of the telescope’s mirrors.
Art director Derry Noyes was the designer for the stamp project.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that the vastness of space is one of the world’s most depicted subjects on stamps. No one knows how many stars are in our galaxy, the Milky Way, but scientists estimate the number to be between 100 billion and 400 billion. A recent review of topical lists from the American Topical Association shows 25 space-related collecting categories – from Apollo 11 to Space Satellites – with more than 14,000 entries. Of course, many stamps are entered into more than one list.
That’s a lot of space and a lot of unknowns, a small part of which will be revealed thanks to NASA’s James Webb Space Satellite, which went into active operation earlier this year.
Launched December 25, 2021, the James Webb is the largest and most complex telescope ever deployed in space — capable of studying every phase of cosmic history. The telescope is designed to provide wondrous images and unprecedented scientific data. It is capable of peering into the limits of the known universe and can bear witness to the early cosmos.
In addition to providing imagery and data about the far reaches of the cosmos, the telescope will also provide new information about our solar system and details about an increasing number of known exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars within our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Through spectroscopy — the analysis of wavelengths coming from these worlds — scientists can help identify planets with advantageous conditions for supporting life as we know it.
The telescope represents a multinational effort and investment, drawing from talents and resources of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. The telescope was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a European Space Agency launch facility. The momentum of the Earth’s spin at this near-equatorial location gave a powerful boost to the launch of the European Ariane 5 rocket that carried the telescope.
Released from the rocket, the telescope then unfolded as it traveled to a special position about a million miles from Earth. The sensitive telescope is protected from heat and light by a five-layer shield of high-tech materials, unfurled to about the size of a tennis court. So situated, the telescope operates in extreme cold, at temperatures below 50 kelvins (minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit). The extraordinary chill is vital, as the telescope must sense faint heat and light from celestial sources — some of them billions of light-years away. The telescope’s highly polished gold mirrors are ideally suited for this.
The first test images from the telescope were received this summer.
You can learn more about the space telescope and view images by visiting the official website at https://webbtelescope.org/news/first-images/gallery.