Published on February 11th, 2020 | by Sam Rose
Royal Mail Voyage the Galaxy with the Visions of the Universe Special Stamps – Out Now!
Royal Mail’s Special Stamps issues take an intergalactic turn this February with the exciting release of Visions of the Universe Special Stamps!
This year, the Royal Astronomical Society will celebrate it’s 200th anniversary, an occasion which Royal Mail will be celebrating with the issue of eight Special Stamps centered around some of the fascinating features that exist in space and beyond!
Founded in March 1820, the Royal Astronomical Society is the leading learned society for astronomy in the UK, helping to promote the scientific study of astronomy, the solar system and related geophysics.
The society also supports the public education of students, teachers, the public and media in all subjects and topics relating to astronomy and our understandings of the wider galaxy we are a part of.
Highlighting various astronomical features and phenomena which has been discovered over time by astronomers and astrophysicists, this breathtaking new collection provides a thrilling insight into true ‘Visions of the Universe’, with eight awe-inspiring designs covering mysterious phenomena such as the Cat’s Eye Nebula, Pulsar, Cygnus A Galaxy and more.
This issue is also supported by a special Coin Cover, serving to commemorate the wonderful mind and inspiring contributions to astronomy provided by Professor Stephen Hawking, who was awarded the RAS’ prestigious gold medal in 1895 for his work in cosmology and for his collaborations in exploring the theory behind black holes.
Visions of the Universe Special Stamps
2nd Class – Cat’s Eye Nebula
The Cat’s Eye Nebula was first discovered by William Herschel on the 15th of February 1786.
Herschel was the first president of the Royal Astronomical Society who identified that planetary nebulae were gaseous, instead of being stellar in nature.
2nd Class – Enceladus
Enceladus is known as Saturn’s moon that contains water geysers that were first detected by a British team upon further investigation.
The overall discovery of Enceladus on August 28th in 1789 is again credited to William Herschel, but very little was known about its form until the two Voyager spacecrafts, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, passed nearby it in the early 1980s.
1st Class – Pulsar
The very first Pulsar was discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish.
Their discovery came from their observations of pulses which were separated by 1.33 seconds originating from the same location in the sky, who noticing this occurrence, further looked for a clear explanation as to how the pulses were being generated.
1st Class – Black Hole
It is still difficult to this day to replicate exactly how a black hole looks in the solar system, with this stamp design featuring an interpretation of what one may appear like based on data collected by University College London.
A breakthrough in uncovering the existence of black holes came in 1970, when Professor Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose published their scientific paper which was groundbreaking in helping to determine the true nature of black holes.
£1.55 – Jupiter’s Aurora
During early beginnings in trying to better understand the universe and everything within it, it was unknown as to the type of properties each of the planets possessed.
However, research carried out by the University of Leicester has been involved in further understanding auroras and the discovery that the planet of Jupiter has its very own auroras to it, giving the planet its familiar bright glow.
£1.55 – Gravitational Lensing
Gravitational Lensing is the term used to describe an optical phenomenon in which huge gravitational fields appear to bend light.
It was something that was first detected and later examined more closely by a team including UK astronomers in 1979, but it was suggested that Orest Khvolson in 1924 and Frantisek Link in 1936 were the ones to first discuss this type of effect in printed materials.
£1.60 – Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a comet belonging to the Jupiter-family that was first observed on photographic plates in 1969 by Soviet astronomers Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and Svetlana Ivanovna Gerasimenko who it is named after.
British companies and universities including the Open University were involved in the Philae probe which imaged the comet, with the lander descending and sending back huge amounts of data from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
£1.60 – Cygnus A Galaxy
Cygnus A Galaxy is referred to as the first radio source which is said to originate from beyond our own galaxy and was first identified by Grote Reber in 1939.
Like all radio galaxies, it contains an active galactic nucleus and It is regarded as one of the strongest radio sources in the sky, with Roger Jennison and M K Das Gupta establishing it to be a double source in 1953.
Exploring the Brilliant Mind of Stephen Hawking with the Professor Stephen Hawking Coin Cover
Along with these eight Special Stamps that provide a truly astonishing glimpse into the wider universe we live in, this jaw-dropping new issue of Visions of the Universe Special Stamps also pays tribute to the brilliant mind and theories generated by the late Professor Stephen Hawking with a Brilliant Uncirculated Coin Cover.
Containing the full set of Visions of the Universe stamps, this illustrious Coin Cover pack is cancelled with a special postmark, featuring an illustration of a black hole and bears Cambridge as the location to further acknowledge where Professor Hawking spent most of his working life.
It includes the Brilliant Uncirculated 50p coin depicting a black hole which was struck by The Royal Mint last year in honour of Professor Hawking, an exceptional man who dedicated his career to discovering the universe and many of its secrets.
This wonderful set is finished off with the insights of Anthea Bain, journalist and Personal Assistant to Professor Stephen Hawking until his unfortunate passing, with the pack further helping to explore:
– The personal life of Stephen Hawking
– Many of his key influences
– Hawking’s personal challenges
– Insights into his education
And much more about the key events throughout his life which have contributed to Professor Stephen Hawking being regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein.
Additional Visions of the Universe Collectibles
Other collectibles included as part of the Visions of the Universe issue are:
• A Presentation Pack containing all eight Special Stamps in a slickly designed package, featuring a brief history of the Royal Astronomical Society and further engaging imagery and illustrations, backed by short explanations on the astronomical phenomena depicted on each stamp.
• A Framed Stamp Set featuring each of the eight Visions of the Universe stamps professionally mounted and finished with a black ash effect frame supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity.
• A Stamp Cards Set including each of the eight Visions of the Universe stamps set amongst a collection of Stamp Cards to further highlight and exploit the finer detail of each of the designs.
• A Prestige Stamp Book containing all eight Visions of the Universe stamp designs in panes not available anywhere else and two panes containing eight definitive stamps.
In addition, it includes 24 pages of expert insight written by astronomy journalist Dr Stuart Clark exploring the history of the Royal Astronomical Society, its key discoveries, the growth of astronomical science and geophysics and excerpts based on recent space missions.