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Home / Science / The first film of a total solar eclipse – in 1900 – has just been discovered and restored

The first film of a total solar eclipse – in 1900 – has just been discovered and restored



The first film of a total solar eclipse was restored by specialists from the British Film Institute (BFI) and made available for viewing. The film was recorded in 1900 in North Caroline by Nevil Maskelyne. Maskelyne was a British man, a magician who became a filmmaker. He took the film as part of an expedition of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

The film is from the archives of the Royal Astronomical Society and has been carefully and carefully restored. The preservation experts of this institution went through the film image by image to restore it to 4k.

This film is from Maskelyne's second attempt to film a total solar eclipse. His first attempt was in 1898, when he traveled to India to photograph the event. Unfortunately, this film tin was stolen from him and her fate is unknown.

"Early film historians have searched for this film for many years."

Bryony Dixon, silent film curator of the BFI.

Filming the Eclipse was a difficult task for Maskelyne. He had to build a special telescope adapter for his camera to get the job done. According to the BFI and the RAS, this film is only a surviving work by Maskelyne. In a way, it's scary.

Maskelyne's transition from wizard to videographer made sense in the Victorian era. At this time, science, magic and the paranormal mingled in the minds of many. At that time there were many charlatans at work trying to photograph the spirit world and summon the dead and so on. Of course, they may not have known that they are charlatans. In those days everything seemed possible.

But Maskelyne was different. He was a professional illusionist and a member of Magic Circle, a British organization dedicated to the art and entertainment of illusion and magic. (There is even an award named after him.) But he also firmly believed in science and actually tried to expose fraud. He founded the Occult Committee, a group dedicated to detecting fraud.

  In this picture from the movie the sun is partly still visible. Picture credits: BFI / RAS.
In this picture from the movie the sun is partly still visible. Source: BFI / RAS.

Maskelyne was certainly not the only illusionist to become a filmmaker. Some illusionists have set themselves the task of producing "magical" films as part of their stage shows. However, Maskelyne turned out to be a bit different when he actually worked with the RAS to record these astronomical events.

"Film, like magic, connects art and science," said Bryony Dixon, silent film curator at the BFI. "This is a story about magic; Magic and art and science and film and the blurred boundaries between them. Early film historians have been searching for this film for many years. Like one of his elaborate illusions, it's exciting to think that Maskelyne's only known survival movie has reappeared. "

<img src =" https://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/220px-John_Nevil_Maskelyne.jpg "alt =" John Nevil Maskelyne, a dapper looking guy! Photo credits: Unknown – Carte de Visite Woodburytype – Print., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6790479[19659014lightboxesJohnNevilMaskelyneeingutlooking-type!Picturecredits:FromUnknown-CartedVisiteWoodburytype-PrintPublicDomainhttps://commonswikimediaorg/w/indexphp?curid=6790479[19659011{Harnessing21 st century The technical magic of this 19th-century attraction was revived and Maskelyne wanted to show a novelty in his magic theater that is better than the most impressive natural phenomenon of all " Dixon said in a press release.

Maskelyne considered himself a scientific investigator, according to RAS, and like many others in the Victorian era, he was very interested in illusions, spiritualism, and verse various other phenomena. But he was also fascinated by astronomy, and that fascination made him a member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Good that he did it.

 In this picture from the movie the sun reappears. Picture credits: BFI / RAS.
The sun reappears in this picture from the movie. Source: BFI / RAS.

The RAS recognized early that astrophotography is important, and in 1887 set up a permanent committee dealing with a growing collection of astrophotographies. This movie is part of this collection.

"… it is a notable record of both early cinema and the late Victorian solar eclipse."

Dr. Joshua Nall, Chairman of the RAS Astronomical Heritage Committee

Wonderful Archive Discovery: Perhaps the oldest surviving astronomical film is an impressive record of both the early and late Victorian solar eclipses. " Joshua Nall, Chairman of the Astronomical Heritage Committee of the RAS. "The BFI is an ideal partner, it has done a great job of digitally restoring the film, and it's great that anyone can watch it for free as part of their treasure at Victorian cinema."

The fact that the film is grainy and nervous, which contributes to its attractiveness as a historical object.


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