2007  The Planets (Éire)

An Post, the Irish equivalent of Royal Mail, released four stamps showing the outer planets of our Solar System in 2007 May. The Planets stamps were not linked to any event or anniversary, although they took advantage of Pluto’s demotion to the status of a dwarf planet the previous year which reduced the number of major planets from nine to an even eight.

The four stamps came as two se-tenant pairs and also on a mini-sheet, illustrated above. The 55c pair featured Jupiter and Neptune, Jupiter being a Hubble Space Telescope view from 1999 while the Neptune view seems to be a slightly modified version of this image taken by Voyager 2 in 1989.

The 78c pair showed Saturn as seen by HST during the ring-plane crossing in 1995 November, along with an enhanced-colour view of Uranus with pinkish cloud features (but not its rings) taken by HST in 2003. At the centre of the pairs are two views of the Earth’s western and eastern hemispheres, obtained from NASA’s Visible Earth website. The background to the mini sheet is part of an image from the HST’s COSMOS survey made with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

An accompanying Prestige Booklet, written by Professor David Fegan of the School of Physics at University College Dublin, includes four stamp panes, each featuring the four stamps on different backgrounds. The text, in English and Irish, gives a brief introduction to the cosmos, followed by an outline of planetary formation, a brief description of the giant planets, and ends with a mention of extrasolar planets and the possibility of life on them.

Stanley Gibbons nos. 1842–1845 and MS1846