A movement to immortalize famed Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan with a U.S. postage stamp was launched Feb. 11 for local media at the Ithaca Sciencenter.
Patrick Fish, founder of the Utica-based grassroots Sagan Appreciation Society, and Charles Trautmann, executive director of the Sciencenter, unveiled four renderings by three artists or artist teams of proposed Sagan memorial stamps that the society plans to submit to the U.S. Postal Service for commissioning.
"As Carl was America's science popularizer, it seems fitting that he be bestowed with a populist kind of honor," Fish said. "Carl wasn't just an astronomer, physicist and the world's pre-eminent science teacher. He was arguably the first exobiologist, one of the fathers of global-warming awareness, a peacemaker and a brilliant author who could make science sound like poetry."
Trautmann read a statement by Sagan's widow, author Ann Druyan, at the media launch. She described how Sagan had been an avid stamp collector as a boy and how that interest was perhaps early evidence of his "passion for the diversity of Earth's cultures."
"So this particular tribute to Carl would have held special significance for him, as it does for me," Druyan said in the statement.
The Sagan Appreciation Society initiated the process in 2007 when artists Greg Mort, Pat Linse, Lisa Hutter and Chris Fix began creating preliminary stamp designs.
The process for getting a stamp approved by the U.S. government is an arduous one, and there are no guarantees of success. Designs must be submitted and approved by a 14-member Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, which meets four times per year. If approved, it can take years before the stamp is printed.
The Sciencenter will host a gala event, Feb. 28, its 25th anniversary celebration, during which the Sagan stamp designs will be unveiled officially to the public. Meanwhile, people are encouraged to begin petitioning the U.S. Postal Service for the stamp designation or to sign a petition through the Sagan Appreciation Society.