First solar eclipse recording ever made published by the Royal Astronomical Society


It may just be the very first solar eclipse recording ever. Taken on may 1900, this never seen before footage combines art and science to create an impressive picture that has lasted more than 100 years.

On May 28, 1900, North Carolina was one of the best places to be to watch a total solar eclipse. 119 years later, we can all enjoy it thanks to magician and British filmmaker named Nevil Maskelyne, who managed to capture what is probably the first moving image of such an event.

The Royal Astronomical Society released the restored material below, recorded by Maskelyne that day. Part of the film was rediscovered in the company’s archives, then digitized, reassembled and reprogrammed, frame by frame, to be fully restored in 4K format using the National Archives of the British Film Institute.

“Perhaps the oldest surviving astronomical film is a truly impressive recording of the beginning of film and the solar eclipse of the late Victorian era,” said Dr. Joshua Nall, chairman of the astronomical heritage of the SAR, in a statement Thursday.

To film the shadow of the moon sliding on the sun, Maskelyne developed a special telescope adapter for his camera. According to BFI, this is his only film to survive.

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Maskelyne’s interest in magic goes hand in hand with his pioneering work in film, both based on the latest technologies.

“Film, like magic, combines art and science,” said BFI silent film curator Bryony Dixon. “This 19th century attraction uses the technical magic of the 21st century and has been revitalized, and Maskelyne wanted to showcase something new in his magical theater: what’s more beautiful than the most impressive natural phenomenon?”

Paige Driessen

Paige is an Arizona native who loves the outdoor life. She writes about a wide range of topics for The Talking Democrat