August 25, 2004

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Men on the Moon


Image Credit: Chuck Wood

Men on the Moon

In 2004 there are apparently millions of amazingly gullible people (and one insipid TV network) willing to believe that Apollo astronauts never landed on the Moon. But in 1835 much of the world wanted to believe that men were on the Moon. On this day 169 years ago, the New York Sun newspaper published the first of a series of reports, supposedly from astronomer Sir John Herschel, who with his powerful new telescope (24 ft diameter mirror and 42,000 power!) observed creatures on the Moon. In act, Sir John had gone to South Africa with an 18" telescope and was making new discoveries everywhere he looked (since no one previously had observed in the southern hemisphere with an instrument anywhere near that large). The reports continued, with drawings such as this illustration of detailed views of a winged human-like species (center-left) and large upright beavers (right). On September 16, the Sun published a note stating that some people questioned if the lunar articles were a hoax, but the Sun never admitted it. A Sun journalist, Richard Adams Locke, admitted privately to being the author. In reading the first Sun article it is clear that who ever wrote it had a firm knowledge of then current astronomy and telescope making. The exaggerations were built on enough fact that supposedly Yale astronomers accepted it. But as a magician - was it The Amazing Randi? - has stated, trained scientists are among the easiest to fool with legerdemain!

Chuck Wood

Related Links:
Great Moon Hoax
Two Moon Hoaxes

Yesterday's LPOD: Don's Crater To Be?

Tomorrow's LPOD: A Lost 40 Year Old Dome Catalog

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood


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