Just touch the stamp with your finger, and the heat transforms the image of the blacked-out sun into the moon. Today, precisely one day before the summer solstice, the institution will release a special eclipse-themed stamp.
The back of the stamp sheet will include a map depicting the path of the eclipse, from OR to SC. The U.S. Postal service wants to celebrate the event in a unique way.
This stamp image is a photograph taken by retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak of Portal, Arizona, who is considered by many to be the world's leading authority on total solar eclipses with 27 viewed. It was taken in Libya in 2006.
The stamps are available for purchase at the USPS website or your local Post Office. The post office is encouraging people use the hashtag #EclipseStamps to share images on social media.
Columbia will be an area that sees the total eclipse for the longest period of time. The Aug. 21 event will have a 70-mile-wide "path of totality", traversing the country diagonally, starting at mid-morning in OR and ending 2,500 miles east and 90 minutes later off the coast of SC during the mid-afternoon, local time.
The last time a total solar eclipse swept across the US from coast to coast was nearly 100 years ago.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration wants you to party on August 21, 2017. With the heat of one's thumb or finger, the darkened shadow of the moon fades to reveal the moon itself; once cool, the shadow returns.
Thermochromic inks are vulnerable to ultraviolet light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve the special effect.
"What I'm hoping is that this highlights that stamps are useful for multiple reasons, not simply to get things from point A to point B, but to see the beauty of stamps", said Scott English, executive director of the American Philatelic Society.
A pane of 16 Eclipse Forever stamps are now on sale, with a value equal to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.