Carl Sagan Supporters Demand for Postage Stamp

ITHACA, N.Y. - Supporters of the late Carl Sagan plan to petition federal postal officials to create a stamp commemorating the world-famous astronomer.

Sagan was a Cornell University professor and director of the school's Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He consulted with NASA, briefed astronauts, and wrote or edited more than 20 books. His two most renowned works were "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence," for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, and "Cosmos," the best selling nonfiction science book ever published in English.

The postage stamp commemoration is being spearheaded by the Sciencenter and the Sagan Appreciation Society of Ithaca.

Society founder Patrick Fish said the idea grew in part out of a desire to recognize Sagan in a "populist" way and because Sagan enjoyed collecting stamps as a child.

"Carl was an avid stamp collector as a boy, and we treasure the albums he made then," said Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan. "They're filled with his handwritten notes in the margins, perhaps the earliest 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."

Sagan has been honored by countless scientific societies, but his contributions to making science accessible for average people inspired Fish to want to see Sagan honored in a broad way, he said.

Sagan, a founding member of the Sciencenter, died in 1996. A year later the Sciencenter dedicated the Sagan Planet Walk, a 1.2-kilometer scale model of the solar system that runs from downtown Ithaca to the Sciencenter.

Four stamp designs will be considered. Two show Sagan holding a candle with a comet in the background and another depicts a young Sagan with a starry sky in the background. The only stamp with a photo rather than a painting of Sagan shows an older, laughing Sagan with planets and moons in the background.

Fish said an online petition is available through the Sagan Appreciation Society Web site.


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