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Behold, the oldest-known footage of a celestial event yet

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For space enthusiasts, the ability to witness celestial wonders firsthand is a privilege. Today, we have our smartphones to eternalize these moments. But what about way back in the past? The answer lies in a grainy, silent snippet from 1900.


This historic film, captured by English inventor John Nevil Maskelyne—who was a magician too, no less—depicts the total solar eclipse of May 28th, 1900. Maskelyne, known more for his stage illusions than astronomy, traveled to North Carolina specifically to witness this astronomical spectacle. Armed with an early film camera, he documented the event, leaving behind what is believed to be the oldest surviving footage of its kind.


The brief clip, lasting only seconds, portrays the awe-inspiring phenomenon. As the moon gradually covers the sun, the sky darkens, and the solar corona – the sun’s outermost atmosphere—becomes visible like a delicate halo. The rudimentary technology of the time restricts the detail, but its significance remains.


Will you be capturing the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse yourself this April 8?








Image: Royal Astronomical Society

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