Come October 1, the U.S. Postal Service will issue this pane of 20 41-cent stamps with two designs that feature photographs of the polar lights, often known as auroras.
The polar lights are a luminous glow seen in the night sky at high latitudes surrounding the north and south magnetic poles. These auroras are the result of a magnetic storm - when Earth's magnetic field is unusually active due to a dynamic interaction with the sun. During magnetic storms, energetic electrons descend from space and collide with molecules in the upper atmosphere, leading to the emission of green and sometimes red light. Auroras come in different visual forms, including arcs, curtains and rays, and are a relatively common sight in Alaska, Canada and northern Europe. During particularly intense magnetic storms, auroras can occasionally be seen in some of the lower 48 states as well.
"Aurora" is the Latin name of the ancient Roman goddess of the dawn. The aurora borealis are the northern lights and the aurora australis are the southern lights. Through history, auroras have inspired a colorful folklore, especially among northern Europeans and the Inuit people of Siberia and North America, where the lights have been attributed to human or animal spirits and have sometimes been thought to foretell ominous news. Today, the aurora is the subject of scientific investigation, with researchers from many countries collaborating during International Polar Year 2007-2008.
The two designs on this pane of 20 stamps feature photographs of auroras. The photograph of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, was made by Fred Hirschmann of Wasilla, Alaska. It shows the northern lights over the Talkeetna Mountains in Alaska. The photograph of the aurora australis, a phenomenon of the southern polar region, was made by Per-Andre Hoffmann of Stuttgart, Germany who now resides in Manila, Philippines.
The header image on the pane of stamps is a photograph of aurora borealis by LeRoy Zimmerman of Ester, Alaska . Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA was artistic designer.
Jeffrey Love of the U.S. Geological Survey served as a scientific consultant to the U.S. Postal Service for this project. He also wrote the text that appears on the back of the stamp pane.
The two stamps on this pane of 20 are also featured on the International Polar Year 2007-2008 souvenir sheet that was issued in February.
What is IPY
Thursday, 27 September 2007 20:44
New IPY stamps by the US Postal ServiceWritten by Louise Huffman
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