In the summer of 1835, readers of the New York Sun were startled to learn that famed astronomer Sir John Hershel had made an astonishing discovery: the existence of life on the moon. Not just any life, mind you, but frolicking, bat-winged moon men and ladies, moon beavers and unicorns. As the stories continued and claims repeated and expanded, they were accompanied by these extremely convincing and very scientific illustrations. Nearly a month had gone by before a rival paper finally exposed the hoax, thereby dashing the hopes of aspiring moon colonists everywhere, while not completely un-complicating the life of Sir John Hershel, who would later complain about having to re-iterate that he had not, in fact, found moon bat people.
Find out more:
The Great Moon Hoax – Museum of Hoaxes
“The Great Moon Hoax was Simply a Sign of its Time” – Smithsonian
“Belief, Legend, and the Great Moon Hoax” – Library of Congress