Researchers and scientists have unraveled the mysteries of the cosmos over time like a puzzle, finding new stars and planets with ever-more powerful instruments. Several African postal authorities have honored such scientists as Galileo and Copernicus, as well as the discoveries they have uncovered. Djibouti issued a 1984 airmail issue (left) to commemorate the successful creation of Galileo’s telescope prototype in 1609, which allowed him to see and document elements such as sunspots, the phases of Venus and the satellites of Jupiter. Modern scientific advances have also been celebrated on African stamps, such as Mali’s issuance of a 1980 airmail stamp (below) celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto, which made headlines around the globe when announced by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in March 1930.
Perhaps the most enduring images however, are those of the phenomena that delight societies who look up at the night skies and marvel at what they see. Constellations of stars have been the subject of many stamp issues, and most recently from African nations such as Namibia and Mauritius. Pictured here (right) is one such image from a 2002 set of Mauritius showing the pattern of stars which make up the Scorpius sign (others in the set show the constellations Orion, Sagittarius and Crux).