This 1900 film of a solar eclipse may be the oldest footage of an astronomical event ever (video)

In 1900, English stage magician, inventor, and backyard astronomer John Nevil Maskelyne traveled to North Carolina to observe the total solar eclipse on May 28. Above is his film of the phenomenon which may be the oldest surviving footage of an astronomical event.

A member of the Royal Astronomical Society, Maskelyne's passion was at the intersection of science, art, and magic.

From the Royal Astronomical Society:

Advancement in technology and magic intermingled seamlessly in the Victorian world, where a passion for science with innovations including Marconi's wireless telegraphy co-existed alongside a deeply held belief in the paranormal and the spiritual photography of the Society for Psychical Research. It was no coincidence that many early filmmakers and showmen including GA Smith and Walter Booth worked in magic theatres or were performing illusionists before they turned their hand to film. Nevil Maskelyne and David Devant who ran the famous Egyptian Hall, the oldest magic theatre in London's Piccadilly, were early adopters of the new medium, introducing 'trick' films into the overall magic show.

"Maskelyne wanted a novelty to show at his magic theatre, what better than the most impressive natural phenomenon of them all," says Bryony Dixon, silent film curator of the British Film Institute that collaborated with the Royal Astronomical Society to restore the film.

(via Daily Grail)