Sometimes relics from the past help put the present into better focus.
Recovered footage of a 1900 total eclipse of the sun — believed to be the first captured — has been scanned, restored and then reassembled and retimed frame by frame to create a memorable and kind of spooky look at early astronomy. The film was found at the Royal Astronomical Society in London, reconstructed by the British Film Institute and made public this week.
As explained in a release from the two societies, the film was taken by one Nevil Maskelyne, a British magician, card sharp, levitator and more turned pioneering filmmaker and astronomer.
The eclipse was captured during an expedition to North Carolina with the British Astronomical Association. As the release explained, at the time magic, the paranormal and science often fit comfortably together, and the emerging film industry was a tool for all and an instigator of invention.
“It was not an easy feat to film,” the release reports. “Maskelyne had to make a special telescopic adapter for his camera to capture the event. ”
The North Carolina expedition was Maskelyne’s second attempt to film a solar eclipse, but the only one to have survived — ...