Isle of Man Stamps and Coins has teamed up with Dark Sky Discovery to present a stunning stamp issue celebrating the beauty and clarity of the Manx night skies.
Acknowledged earlier this year as being one of the best skies for stargazing in Europe, the stamps will be released on September 1.
The Island has a total of 26 dark sky sites, the greatest concentration of such sites in Europe.
Nineteen were recognised in January, in addition to the seven granted the status in October 2012.
Dark Sky Status is granted only to sites that have spectacular views of the night sky.
One of the criteria for Dark Sky Status is the ability to see the Milky Way clearly on dark clear moonless nights, which is known in Manx as ‘Raad Mooar re Gorry’ or the great way of King Orry, commemorating the landing of King Orry in the late 11th Century.
Nicole Stott, NASA astronaut and wife of Manxman Chris Stott, gave her full support to the application for the original seven sites: ‘I tried on many occasions to identify the Isle of Man from orbit, but I had great difficulty because it is so dark! I eventually captured an image and it shows how wonderful the night skies in the Island are. The Manx skies are fantastic for astronomy – great from above, on board the ISS (International Space Station) and from below, on the Island.’
The stamp issue has been produced following consultation with Howard Parkin of AstroManx and the pictures used on the stamps show spectacular images of the Manx night skies and feature some of the constellations clearly visible throughout the year from the Island’s darker skies.
The 42p stamp shows Orion, one of the most spectacular winter constellations superimposed onto an image taken from Niarbyl. The 164p stamp shows Leo, a spring constellation and the skies from Port Erin; the 182p stamp shows the summer constellation of Cygnus with a spectacular view of the Milky Way as seen from Fort Island, and the 230p stamp shows the autumn group showing Pegasus and Andromeda with the sky from Langness.