This episode introduces the main theme and aim of the series, to delve into strange artifacts, notions and incidents. Investigated here: he views and describes the natural mystery of a solar eclipse. Historical, societal and scientific points of view are compared and contrasted. Clarke expounds on his categorisation of mysteries, self-consciously aping the famous 'close encounters' categorisation used by some ufologists:
1. Mysteries of the First Kind - phenomena which were a mystery to our ancestors but that are now well understood. Clarke illustrates this mystery by attending a total eclipse of the sun in rural India, highlighting the fact that this is still treated with reverence and suspicion in some cultures.
2. Mysteries of the Second Kind - phenomena which are as yet unexplained, but where we have several clues that hint at an answer. Examples given in the program include ball lightning and the vitrified forts of Scotland.
3. Mysteries of the Third Kind - phenomena to which we have "no rational explanation". Clarke lists psychic phenomena as something that would be classed in this category.
About the Series
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World is a thirteen part British television series looking at unexplained phenomena from around the world. It was produced by Yorkshire Television for the ITV network and first broadcast in September 1980. Each program is introduced and book-ended by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in short sequences filmed in Sri Lanka. The bulk of the episodes are narrated by Gordon Honeycombe. The series was produced by John Fanshawe, John Fairley and directed by Peter Jones, Michael Weigall and Charles Flynn. It also featured a unique soundtrack composed by British artist Alan Hawkshaw. In 1981, Book Club Associates published a hardcover book with the same name, authored by Fairley and Welfare, where the contents of the show were further explored. It featured an introduction written by Sir Arthur as well as his remarks at the end of each chapter or topic. In 1985, a paperback of this book was released by HarperCollins Publishers.