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

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Quite something given that the movie camera was scarcely a decade old at this point.


Wow! I bet that played well at the Egyptian Hall.


Maskelyne was also quite possibly the first hacker.

Maskelyne was planning to use radio technologies, but was constantly blocked by Marconi’s (somewhat dubious) patents. At the time, Marconi was tempting investors with claims that his system allowed for the exchange of secret messages immune to eavesdropping by broadcasting on precise (confidential) frequencies - security through obscurity.

Knowing Maskelyne’s dislike of Marconi, he was hired by The Eastern Telegraph Company who had invested heavily in telegraph cables and saw radio as a threat. Maskelyne found out that Marconi was not using secure transmissions and it was very easy to interfere with Marconi’s ‘confidential’ messages.

So, during a 1903 public exhibition of Marconi’s technology organised by the Royal Society, Maskelyne broadcast his own message from a nearby location over Marconi’s own weaker signal from Poldhu in Cornwall. He started by repeatedly broadcasting ‘Rats’ before sending the message ‘There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.’ This caused a huge amount of embarrassment for Marconi

The whole Maskelyne family is fascinating. Later on they got involved with British military intelligence during World War II and came up with any number of deceptions.


Indeed; they are long overdue for an alternative history espionage tv show.


George Albert Smith was also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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