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Author: Doug Dunlop

The Great Moon Hoax or Was It — The Joke’s on Who?

Moon Hoax illustration of aerial ship descending
Descent of the missionaries aeronautical ship carrying lunar specimens.

On August 31, 1835, what came to be known as The Great Moon Hoax took its final bow in the Sun newspaper. During the following weeks, the story would be largely revealed as a hoax, but was still running wild as a story just the same. Other than discovering animal life and man-bats on the Moon, the other truly odd part of the hoax was that it was no hoax at all, but rather a satire that very few figured out. 

Great Moon Hoax Continues: Lunarians Discovered

Moon Hoax image from Italian Newspaper
Moon Hoax image from Italian Newspaper depicting missionaries aiding the Lunarians.

The Great Moon Hoax continues. During the following days, Herschel’s new found discoveries were astonishing New Yorkers as the story spread like wild fire and was starting to find an audience beyond New York City itself including a number of scientist some of whom bought into the story, while others were fascinated but not so easily convinced. As a matter of fact, several scientists from Yale traveled to New York City in search of the truth behind the report. Back to the story at hand, Herschel’s subsequent nights of observations found him discovering even more astonishing flora, fauna, and geological marvels. 

The Moon Hoax of 1835: Great Astronomical Discoveries

Man Bats on the Moon
Man Bats Discovered on the Moon

During this week in 1835, an incredible story broke in the Sun Newspaper, New York City, which reported that the famed astronomer Sir John Herschel had made Great Astronomical Discoveries. While cataloging and mapping nebulae in the night sky at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, Herschel trained his reportedly hyper powerful telescope on the Moon. The specifics of the telescope was covered in the first day’s article.