The First Man on the Moon and The New York Sun’s Great Moon Hoax of 1835

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Mr. Neil Armstrong in 1969

Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot and walk on the Earth’s moon on July 21, 1969, died August 25, 2012, at age 82. He was also the man who said the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Indeed, since that time, man has taken humongous strides in many things – in astronomy and space travel, in medicine, etc.  But the thing that has the most apparent effect on almost every living person on this planet is the leap that the Information Technology is making. Vast information on almost any topic or subject is literally just a click away for those with access to an internet connection.

Interestingly enough, 177 years to the day Mr. Armstrong died, in the year 1835, the dissemination of information (and misinformation) wasn’t as speedy as today. So much so that one cannot immediately verify  the veracity or accuracy of things written (or spoken) as facts. And so, here is another “moon story.”

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The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

In 1835, beginning on August 25, the New York Sun newspaper ran a six-part series of articles, which came to be known as “The Great Moon Hoax.” It tells of the discovery of Sir John Herschel, with the aid of a new powerful telescope, of fantastic life forms on the moon : winged humanoids that resembled bats, tailless beavers, unicorns, lush plant life.

The articles were written by a “Dr. Andrew Grant,” who was supposedly a traveling companion to Sir John Herschel. The New York Sun enjoyed a marked increase in readership following the publication of these, even after admitting these as a hoax a few weeks later.