The Great Moon Hoax of 1836

Long before the panic that arose after the 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds by Orson Wells, there was another alien hoax that gripped the world. Purported to be the findings of British astronomer Sir John Herschel, perhaps the best known astronomer of the time, the New York Sun, in a blatant use of yellow journalism, started publishing six stories in 1836 reporting the “discovery of life on the moon.” Most likely authored by Richard E. Locke in an ultimately successful attempt to boost the newspapers readership, the extravagant stories where full of alien flora and fauna, including bat winged men, nude moon maidens with luna-moth wings, unicorn moon bison and bipedal tailless beavers. In the articles it was proposed that an expedition be made to the moon using hydrogen filled balloons lifting ship like gondolas beneath, which later returned to earth under large umbrellas.

via The Great Moon Hoax of 1836.