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60 years ago, 1st televised solar eclipse

As the shuttle Discovery returns from the International Space Station today, we've perhaps become a bit blase' about the stunning images of the galaxy regularly sent back to Earth these days. But it wasn't always that way.

In fact, this week marks the anniversary of the first time that a television-viewing audience saw a solar eclipse. The event was broadcast on March 7, 1951. Oddly enough, the significance of the broadcast by CBS News failed to move some experts at the time. Robert Coles, then the curator of the Hayden Planetarium, was quoted telling the New York Times: "Please, I ask you, don't get people too excited about it."

"You see," Coles added, "if we get people expecting a big show they'll be disappointed. Then they won't pay attention when we have a genuine celestial wonder to call to their attention. Please keep this quiet."

Nearly two decades later to the day, March 7, 1970, that event arrived when CBS broadcast a total eclipse of the sun - in color. You can read more about the background to these two connected events here.

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