the great moon hoax of 1835


August 25th 1835: Great Moon Hoax

On this day in 1835, the New York Sun newspaper began publishing articles about the discovery of life and civilisation on the Moon. The hoax continued across six articles in the paper, which claimed that the discovery was made by the famous astronomer Sir John Herschel. According to the articles, fantastic creatures such as unicorns and winged humans lived on the Moon, and lived in an Earth-like geography, with trees, oceans and beaches and even cities and temples. The winged batlike inhabitants of the Moon were termed ‘Vespertilio-homo’. The story vastly increased sales of the New York Sun, with the hoax not being exposed for several weeks, and even then some still believed it to be true that life had been discovered on the Moon.