What just happened? The BFI National Archive and the Royal Astronomical Society recently published restored footage of what is believed to be the first moving image of an astronomical phenomenon, a solar eclipse.

The footage in question was captured by magician Nevil Maskelyne in North Carolina on May 28, 1900, during an expedition by The British Astronomical Association. Maskelyne had to create a special telescopic adapter for his camera to capture the event.

It was actually Maskelyne’s second attempt at filming an eclipse – the first successfully took place in India in 1898 but the footage was stolen during his journey home. This is the only film by the magician that is known to have survived.

The original film fragment, housed in The Royal Astronomical Society’s archive, was scanned and restored frame by frame in 4K by the conversation experts at the BFI National Archive and published as part of the recently released Victorian Film collection.

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