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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Tim Baker

Royal Mail's new space stamps celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society

Stamps showing off the amazing features of space have been unveiled, with the Royal Mail hoping they will “celebrate the UK’s contribution to our understanding of the universe”.

The new collection - named “The Visions of the Universe” - features eight different postage labels that can be pre-ordered for February 11 as a set for £9.75.

The stamps have been released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Included in the selection is the Cat’s Eye Nebula - first spotted by the RAS’s inaugural President William Herschel in 1786.

Created by London-based artist Robert Ball, the collection also features Jupiter’s aurora, glowing bluish gas wrapped around the planet’s north pole, and the comet 67P, which belongs to the Jupiter family.


Other celestial objects in the issue are Saturn’s moon Enceladus, with plumes containing water vapour spewing from its surface, and the Cygnus A, a galaxy around 600 million light years away from Earth and a powerful cosmic source of radio waves.

Philip Diamond, executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “This striking and attractive set of stamps reflects the drama of the universe around us.

“I’m delighted that our bicentenary year is marked by a genuine collector’s item combining tradition with contemporary science.”

Other astronomical phenomena in the collection include black holes, pulsars, and gravitational lensing – which is caused by massive celestial objects distorting or bending light.

The idea of the Royal Astronomical Society was first conceived in 1820 during a dinner at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London.

It now has a membership of more than 4,000 astronomers, known as Fellows, and aims to promote the study of astronomy, geophysics, and other closely related branches of science.

Philip Parker, a Royal Mail spokesperson, said: “These vivid and beautiful new stamps celebrate the UK’s contribution to our understanding of the Universe, from geysers erupting from one of Saturn’s moons to the extraordinary nature of Black Holes.”

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