The Sky at Night - 13 February 2007
In April 1957, the very first Sky at Night
programme was broadcast by BBC Television. It was introduced by Sir Patrick Moore.
Royal Mail issued a set of 6 stamps shown here on the Norvic FDC produced in a limited edition of only 20. The cover shows the Orion Nebula M42 and is postmarked at Macclesfield, close to the Joddrell Bank telescope.
The set of six stamps depict:
1st Class - Saturn Nebula C55
A favourite of amateur astronomers named after the Saturn-like shape of the nebula. Discovered by William Herschel in 1782 the Saturn Nebula is about 1400 light-years from the Sun and can be found in the constellation of Aquarius.
1st Class - Eskimo Nebula C39
A planetary nebula with a bright central star that has been likened to a face peering out of fur lined parka. Discovered by William Herschel in 1787 the Eskimo Nebula is about 4000 light-years from the Sun and can be found in the constellation of Gemini.
50p - Cat's Eye Nebula C6
A bright and complex planetary nebula, with a bright central star forming the glint in the cat's eye. Discovered by William Herschel in 1786 the Cat's Eye Nebula is about 3000 light-years from the Sun and can be found in the constellation of Draco
50p - Helix Nebula C63
Easily seen with binoculars, the apparent helical structure gives it its name. Its central star is a very hot dwarf. At 450 light-years from the Sun it is the closest nebula to the Earth and can be found in the constellation of Aquarius.
72p - Flaming Star Nebula C31
The distinctive purple colour of the nebula is caused by ionising radiation from the Flaming Star, AE Aurigae, a runaway star from the Orion Nebula. The Flaming Star Nebula is 1600 light-years from the Sun and can be found in the constellation of Auriga.
72p - The Spindle C53
A lenticular galaxy with a bright nucleus, the Spindle contains a black hole that is about one billion times as massive as the Sun. Visible with powerful binoculars the Spindle is 32 million light-years from the Sun near the constellation of Sextans.