The 1898 and 1995 Indian eclipses: A contrasting view

Martin Ratcliffe

There’s a famous journey involving a long sea voyage to India by the British Astronomical Association in 1898. The saga is highlighted in the volume, The Indian Eclipse 1898, by E W Maunder. In 1995, almost a hundred years later, I traveled by Boeing 747 to New Dehli, and filmed the eclipse using a modern television camera. The two journeys reveal some stark contrasts in how eclipses are recorded yesterday and today. Follow along with fascinating historical stories of the efforts to record the two eclipses, including some personal anecdotes. Finally we’ll journey into space to preview the 2017 event which can be enjoyed from unique vantage points from anywhere in space using planetarium software.


Martin is currently Director of Professional Development for Sky-Skkan, a digital planetarium company, and he trains planetarium staff to use the DigitalSky® software for creating innovative live planetarium shows. He is a former President of the International Planetarium Society 2001-2002. Representing Sky-Skkan, he attended the first White House Star Party in October 2009 and introduced the first family to a digital planetarium experience on the South Lawn of the White House. He moved from England to the USA in 1991 to direct the Buhl Planetarium at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1997 he moved to Wichita, KS, to oversee construction and operation of the Boeing CyberDome theater at Exploration Place. In addition to a life in professional planetarium world, he’s a lifelong amateur astronomer who grew up in England, served as a council member of the BAA and the Society for Popular Astronomy, and was involved in forming the local Newbury Amateur Astronomical Society. His first embryonic lecture was for Reading Astronomical Society, which loomed large in his formative years. He is a contributing editor for Astronomy magazine, and co-authors the Night Sky column with Alister Ling. He is author of four books and has written numerous planetarium shows. Martin has filmed total eclipses of the Sun for television (1995 and 1998), and enjoys astronomical photography from his own home-built observatory near Wichita, KS. He earned a bachelor of science degree from University College London (England) in Astronomy. Martin is an adjunct lecturer at Wichita State University and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. In case you didn’t notice, his passion is teaching astronomy to wide audiences.


Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 09:00