Artist Unknown - "The Great Moon Hoax"
Lithograph of the Ruby Colosseum from the New York Sun, August 28, 1835
"The Great Moon Hoax" refers to a series of six articles that were published in the New York Sun beginning on August 25, 1835, about the supposed discovery of life and even civilization on the Moon. The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, perhaps the best-known astronomer of his time.
The articles described fantastic animals on the Moon, including bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tail-less beavers and bat-like winged humanoids (“Vespertilio-homo”) who built temples. There were trees and oceans and beaches. These discoveries were supposedly made with “an immense telescope of an entirely new principle”.
The author of the narrative was supposedly Dr. Andrew Grant, who described himself as the travelling companion and amanuensis of Sir John Herschel, but Dr Grant was fictitious.
Eventually, the authors announced that the observations had been terminated by the destruction of the telescope, by means of the sun causing the lens to act as a ‘burning glass’, setting fire to the observatory.
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