The discovery of life on the Moon (August 25, 1835) - History Key

The discovery of life on the Moon (August 25, 1835)

No, it is not about those who think that NASA “faked” the landing on the Moon. It is about that in 1835 a series of articles that were published in the New York Sun which stated that the latest astronomical observations demonstrated the existence of life on our natural satellite.

The discovery was attributed to the most famous astronomer of those times, Sir John Herschel. He stated that he invented the most powerful telescope of that period. However, the true author is officially unknown, but the general opinion believes that Richard A. Locke wrote those articles. We can say that it was the first fake news in history, on a large scale. It is also believed that Locke wanted to increase the sales of the newspaper.

It also seems that it was a way of protesting against several ridiculous astronomical theories, such as the moon has huge lands of vegetation.

John Herschel 1846
John Herschel, 1846 © Wikimedia Commons: Wikipedia

Of course, today we know that the Moon is dead and cold, but in the 19th century, we didn’t know too much about the other celestial bodies. So the possibility of life on our satellite, even the existence of a civilization, didn’t seem impossible.

The life on Moon

Bison, blue-eyed unicorns, spherical amphibians, in other words, the animals were coming from the fairytales. However, the intelligent species was the humanoid bat. Moreover, it was supposed that the humanoid bats were similar to humans that once had wings, but they had lost them at some point. Their face was yellow with an intelligent expression.

A lithograph of the hoax's "ruby amphitheater", as printed in The Sun
A lithograph of the hoax’s “ruby amphitheater”, as printed in The Sun © Image Source: Wikimedia Commons: Wikipedia

The interesting part was that all the moon creatures were vegetarians. The moon seemed to be the paradise.

Sales reached the Moon

The goal of the newspaper reached the target. The sales have grown considerably and The Sun started to be a successful newspaper. When the article that contained the discovery of intelligent beings was published, a new record of sales was reached. It was also the highest in the world at that time: more than 15,000.

Title page of pamphlet reprint, showing moon men and hut-dwelling bipedal beavers
Title page of pamphlet reprint, showing moon men and hut-dwelling bipedal beavers © Image Source: lhup.edu

After a few weeks since the last article was published, the truth came out. Those articles were a hoax, which is now known as “The Great Moon Hoax”. Even after the truth was revealed, there were many who still believed in the existence of life on the moon.

The Sun has never recognized that the series of the articles were a huge hoax.

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