The Southern Lights or Aurora Australis is a spellbinding natural light show that produces shimmering sheets of colourful light that appear to dance across the sky. New Zealand is home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve, offering premium conditions for star gazing.
Auroras are the result of electrically charged particles from solar winds reacting with gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The excess energy from these reactions creates a stunning light show that can be seen at the North or South poles. In order to view the Southern Lights you would need to be as far South as possible, which is part of the reason that New Zealand is such a prime location for viewing these colourful displays.
The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is located in the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island. The extreme lack of natural light and the multitude of clear nights make it the perfect combination for stargazing, or if the timing is right, for viewing the Southern Lights. The Mt John observatory is the University of Canterbury’s premier astronomical observatory and is a much favoured spot for catching a glimpse of the Southern Lights.
The Southern Lights can range in colour from pink to green to purple, with the colours dependent on a number of factors. The type of solar wind particle, the type of gas molecule and the electrical state at the time of the collision all have an effect on the eventual colour of the aurora.
This stunning stamp issue features six gummed stamps - each featuring a photograph of the Southern Lights at the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Each stamp shows a different view of the Southern Lights, with the various colours and patterns of shimmering light clearly evident in these stunning photographs.
Miniature sheet and first day covers
The stamps in the miniature sheet have been produced using a special silver foil, which replicates the shimmering effect of the Southern Lights. The miniature sheet is the only way to obtain the stamps in this format. There are two first day covers available as part of this issue. One has the six stamps affixed and one has the miniature sheet affixed. Both feature more stunning imagery of the Southern Lights.
The Southern Lights presentation pack is the ultimate collector’s item. It has been written by Earth and Sky, an astro-tourism company that operates from the heart of the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve. With stunning imagery to match its compelling story, the items and information in this pack are sure to please. Inside it you’ll find the six gummed stamps, the first day cover and the miniature sheet.
|Date of issue:||8 February 2017|
|Number of stamps:||Six gummed stamps|
|Denominations:||$1.00, $1.80, $2.00, $2.20, $2.70 and $3.30|
|Stamps designed by:||Jonathan Gray, New Zealand Post|
|Printer and proces:||Southern Colour Print by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four, plus silver foil on miniature sheet|
|Stamp size and format:||48mm x 30mm (horizontal)|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104 gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||25|
|Perforation gauge:||14.585 x 14|
|Period of sale:||Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 7 February 2018. First day covers will remain on sale until 7 April 2017.|