Men in the Moon

When John Herschel was in South Africa, he was amused by an incident which must rank alongside Orson Wells’ stunt with the ‘War of the Worlds’, which succeeded in large part due to the lack of fast communications:

“Richard Locke, a reporter on a New York daily newspaper, The Sun, … printed a story that Herschel had discovered lunar life… the Sun ran a series describing all sorts of lunar wonders seen by Herschel, using a new optical system which involved enhancing the image obtained by the telescope with “artificial transfusion of light”. Bat-men, antelopes, crystal mountains – even “a strange spherical creature which rolled with great velocity across the pebbly shore” – were among Locke’s creations… many people accepted the reports and the August New York Times described them as both possible and probable.” One group of religious zealots even inquired about the feasibility of converting the moon men to Christianity.”


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