On this day August 25, 1835
The hoax was a series of six articles that were published in the New York Sun beginning on August 25, 1835, about the supposed discovery of life on the Moon.
The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, perhaps the best-known astronomer of his time.
According to legend, the New York Sun’s circulation increased dramatically because of the hoax and remained permanently greater than before, thereby establishing the New York Sun as a successful paper.
However, the degree to which the hoax increased the paper’s circulation has certainly been exaggerated in popular accounts of the event. It was not discovered to be a hoax for several weeks after its publication and, even then, the newspaper did not issue a retraction.
Herschel was initially amused by the hoax, noting that his own real observations could never be as exciting. He became annoyed later when he had to answer questions from people who believed the hoax was serious.
The story may also have inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write and publish “The Balloon-Hoax” in the same newspaper on April 13, 1844.