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The postage stamp might not be the largest canvas, but when done just right, it can have a huge impact. And, some can even be, well, out of this world! One such stamp will make its debut on June 20, when the USPS releases The Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp.

Featuring an image of a solar eclipse taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, AZ, the stamp shows an image of a solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006. The stamp is certainly designed beautifully. But, what makes it such a stand out and so very interesting is that it’s printed with Thermochromatic ink—ink that is heat activated. When the sender or recipient touches the stamp, the heat of their fingers activates the ink to reveal an underlying image of the moon—creating an interactive view of a solar eclipse. A total eclipse of the sun occurs when the moon completely blocks the visible solar disk from view, casting a shadow on earth. It provides us with the only chance to see the sun’s corona—its extended outer atmosphere—without specialized instruments. During the total phase of an eclipse the corona appears as a gossamer white halo around the black disk of the moon, resembling the petals of a flower reaching out into space. The solar eclipse stamp designed by Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA uses two images by Espenak, the eclipse with corona and a photographic image of the full moon. This is the first-ever U.S. stamp application of Thermochromatic ink. In this case, the heat makes the ink transparent to display the moon and reverts back to the eclipse once it cools. To see an example of this technique you can make your way to a post office near you to buy this stamp or check out The Standard 5, page 39, where we have hidden a key using Thermochromatic ink. Have you used print to help recipients engage with your clients’ materials? A unique and unexpected technique can turn up the volume on impact and help your message eclipse your competitors. Does that make sense? Portions of this post and images were provided by the USPS and used with permission.

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