New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

Southern Skies

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New Zealand’s clear night skies are an irresistible magnet for stargazers, offering the perfect backdrop for dazzling displays of the Milky Way and its neighbouring galaxies. With an ever-changing view – whether in a single night or throughout the year – they provide one of the most spectacular natural displays on Earth.

Issue information

Some stars are visible all year round, while others only come into view as the Earth sweeps around their region of the sky. But whenever and wherever they appear, they guarantee a glorious panorama; a visual treat, free to all who glance skywards once the sun has set and darkness has descended. New Zealand Post was delighted to feature five ‘stars of the stars’ in our latest stamp issue – each captured on film and supplied by the Royal Astromonical Society of New Zealand.

Reaching for the Stars

All five stamps featured on the Southern Skies first day cover. The stunning night-sky images provided a lovely backdrop to a set of astronomical telescopes, all focused on learning more about our magically mysterious universe.

Miniature Sheet Booklet

The Southern Skies miniature sheet booklet featured six unique miniature sheets, one miniature sheet for each of the five stamps and one miniature sheet with all five stamps, from this issue.

The miniature sheet booklet was the only way you could obtain the six miniature sheets and was full of fascinating facts about the stars and telescopes used to view them.

Product Listing for Southern Skies

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Southern Cross' gummed stamp.

The Southern Cross is such an important feature of New Zealand’s night sky that it is part of our national flag. Visible all year round and easily identifiable in the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky, it has long been a valuable navigation aid. It also appears on the New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior – the stars being seen to have guided the Warrior back to New Zealand from distant battlefields.
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Pleiades' gummed stamp.

The star cluster Pleiades rises just once a year in June, the month when these beautiful stamps are issued. For Māori it is called Matariki, and its arrival on the dawn horizon heralds the start of a brand new year. According to Greek myth, the Pleiades are the seven daughters of Pleione and Atlas – Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Asterope and Merope. A number of ancient temples on Athens’ Acropolis face the direction where the Pleiades rise.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Trifid Nebula' gummed stamp.

The Trifid Nebula (also known as Messier 20) was discovered by Frenchman Charles Messier in 1764. Believed to be about 6,000 light years away from the Earth, its strikingly different colours are caused by effects within its vast clouds of hydrogen gas and dust – which in parts are so dense that they hide the Nebula, producing the three dark lanes that earned it the name ‘Trifid’ (which means divided into three lobes).

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Southern Pinwheel' gummed stamp.

The Southern Pinwheel (also known as Messier 83) was discovered by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1752 and added to Charles Messier’s catalogue in 1781. It is even further than the Trifid Nebula from Earth – 15 million light years away, in the southern constellation of Hydra. Having a similar appearance, shape and size to our own Milky Way galaxy, it contains more than 100,000 million stars and earned its name from the shape of its prominent spiral arms.

Single Stamp

Single $2.50 'Large Magellanic Cloud' gummed stamp.

The Large Megallanic Cloud and its companion the Small Magellanic Cloud are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way – two of our closest neighbour galaxies. Named after the 16th-century Portuguese circumnavigator Ferdinand Magellan, they are hazy patches of light near the South Celestial Pole containing millions of stars, gas and dust. At 190,000 light years away, the Small Magellanic Cloud is one of the most distant objects visible with the naked eye.

Miniature Sheet Booklet Collectable booklet containing a range of miniature sheets and further information on the stamp issue. $19.90
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $8.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 6 June 2007
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations: 50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Capiche Design, Wellington
Printer and process: SEP Sprint, Australia by photo lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell red phosphor
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 5 June 2008.