By Denise McCarty
Recent stamps from Belgium and Sweden depict photographs of the night sky, focusing on the moon and the northern lights (aurora borealis), respectively.
Belgium’s Bpost issued a pane of five stamps Oct. 24 to celebrate the supermoon that occurred Nov. 14.
In an article posted on the NASA website, Sarah Schlieder of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center wrote: “The moon is a familiar sight in our sky, brightening dark nights and reminding us of space exploration, past and present. But the upcoming supermoon — on Monday, Nov. 14 — will be especially ‘super’ because it’s the closest full moon to Earth since 1948. We won’t see another supermoon like this until 2034.
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“The moon’s orbit around Earth is slightly elliptical so sometimes it is closer and sometimes it’s farther away. When the moon is full as it makes its closest pass to Earth it is known as a supermoon. At perigee — the point at which the moon is closest to Earth — the moon can be as much as 14 percent closer to Earth than at apogee, when the moon is farthest from our planet. The full moon appears that much larger in diameter and because it is larger shines 30 percent more moonlight onto the Earth.”
The top stamp in the Belgian pane shows three images of the moon. Bpost describes this design as “evoking the phenomenon.”
Pictured in the selvage in the center of the pane is another image of the moon and text explaining what a supermoon is.
The other four stamps are se-tenant (side-by-side) at the bottom of the pane, and each pictures a specific 21st-century supermoon. Starting on the left, the photographs were taken April 18, 2011 (in China); March 19, 2011 (by Marc Vints); May 6, 2012 (by Dominique Dierick); and Sept. 7, 2014 (at Los Angeles).
Unless otherwise mentioned, the photographs are from the Belga agency.
Kries Maes designed the stamp pane, and it was printed in Belgium by gravure. The stamps are nondenominated, each paying the rate for letters weighing up to 50 grams sent to other European countries.
The northern lights as captured in photographs by Swedish astrophotographer Goran Strand are pictured on five self-adhesive Swedish booklet stamps issued Nov. 10.
Each design also includes the latitude and longitude coordinates to indicate the exact location where the photograph was taken.
For example, Strand reports that the photograph for the top stamp in the nearby illustration was taken March 17, 2013, when he went out to take pictures of a comet, C/2011 L4, PANSTARRS, as it passed Earth.
He wrote on the Instagram post showing the stamp: “Just when all the equipment was set up and ready, the green glow of the Northern Lights started to colour the sky, and I quickly lost all interest in the comet.
“In the end I didn’t get a single photo of the comet, however, I captured a Northern Lights display that @Coldplay later used in their video to A Sky Full of Stars. What’s more, the picture has now ended up as a stamp. What an unexpectedly memorable night.”
The other photographs were taken in Sweden between October 2013 and autumn of 2015.
On his blog, Strand reported that he was contacted by Postnord in 2014 about the stamps, and that the design process started in 2015.
Gustav Martensson designed these Swedish booklet stamps. They were printed by offset.