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2014  Dark Sky Discovery (Isle of Man)

Dark skies are an increasingly precious natural resource, now that much of the night sky is obscured by a veil of artificial light pollution. The Isle of Man prides itself on some of the darkest skies not just in the UK but in all Europe. In 2012, a dozen sites on the island were granted so-called ‘Milky Way’ status by the Dark Sky Discovery Network based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. As the name implies, the sky at these sites is dark enough for the Milky Way to be easily visible to the naked eye. (In the Manx Gaelic language, the Milky Way is known as Raad Mooar re Gorry, or The Great Way of King Orry, who was a legendary Manx king in the late 11th century.) A further 19 such sites were approved in 2013, inspiring the release of this Dark Sky Discovery set by Isle of Man Post Office in 2014 September.

Each stamp contains a view of the sky by a local photographer, with seasonal constellations overprinted in silver. The background for the 42p stamp was taken at Niarbyl, on the west of the island, by Glenn Whorrall, overlain by the winter constellation Orion. The backgrounds for the remaining three stamps were all taken by Ron Strathdee. Port Erin in the southwest of the island is the location for the 164p stamp, with the spring constellation Leo superimposed. On the 182p stamp the Milky Way is seen above the remains of a Norse-Celtic chapel on Fort Island (also known as St Michael’s Isle) in southeast Man, overprinted with the summer constellation Cygnus. The 230p stamp features the autumn constellations Pegasus and Andromeda above the lighthouse and cottages at Langness, south of Fort Island.

For more about the Isle of Man’s dark sky sites see here.

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The 42p, 164p, and 230p stamps from this set were also used on a cover (above) issued the following year by Isle of Man Post Office to mark the partial solar eclipse of 2015 March 20. The eclipse reached a maximum of 93% from the Isle of Man and the stamps were cancelled with postmarks that depicted the start, middle, and end of the eclipse, with local times.


Stanley Gibbons nos. (to come)