Sun Science Means Sun Stamps

  • Post published:09/29/2021
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Sun Science: Stamps for the public

Sun Science was not what I expected when I stopped at the Post Office for stamps. I browsed and began to realize that I have chosen many beautiful and honoring stamps in the past. In my stamp sleeve I currently have American Gardens, Women Vote-19th Amendment, Caffe Latte, Herb Stamps, Tiffany Lamp, Wild Thing, Flowers,  Panther, and Mary Cassatt stamps. I have used many more stamps noting important people and days, but I have never seen, and bought, stamps about our Sun.

These images came from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). A spacecraft was launched in February 2010 to keep a constant watch on the Sun.  The Sun is the only star that we can observe from Earth in great detail. “The SDO lets us see the Sun in wavelengths of ultraviolet light that would otherwise be invisible to our eyes.

“Although the space between the Sun and Earth appears empty to our eyes, it is teeming with particles and energy from the constant flow of solar wind emitted by the Sun. Understanding this dynamic environment helps us better understand its effects near Earth and predict its impact on sensitive technology, such as communications systems and satellite electronics.” That means our telephones and TVs!

My father was fascinated by the stars. When we lived in a small apartment in Stamford, Connecticut he drove to NYC to take classes at the Hayden Planetarium to make his own telescope, including grinding his own telescope. I even went into NYC with him to see different programs of the stars.  I was very young and didn’t take in a lot, but ever since I have been in love with  the stars. I have been lucky as a child to live on  a farm on Lake Champlain where star gazing was easy.  After that it was not until our 35 years in Heath that we could see the stars clearly.

It is not easy to see some of the beautiful, or interesting, events given to  us by the stars – but sometimes we can see a daytime eclipse of the sun! On August 21, 2017 my neighbor Wendy and I watched the mid-day eclipse of the sun – with the help of pots of water and of a kitchen colander! You can visit the day we saw the eclipse.

Henry and I – and lots of people on the Williams College campus  – made an amazing discovery during an eclipse of the sun.  It was a sunny day, and the campus has many trees. as we walked around we suddenly noticed that the shadows of the trees showed hundreds of little eclipses between the leaves.  Wendy and I used our  colander to see  all the tiny eclipses. It was not as clear as our day on the Williams campus, but we saw numerous eclipses on the sidewalk.

Eclipse in a red plastic dishpan on Beech Street
Little eclipses through a colander


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