In the 1820s, the Bavarian astronomer Franz von Paula Gruithuisen claimed to have glimpsed entire cities on the moon with his telescope. He wrote that the “lunarians” who lived there had built sophisticated buildings, roads and forts. Most of his colleagues scoffed at his assertion, but he eventually got a small lunar crater named after him. Sir William Herschel, a prominent British astronomer and composer, also thought aliens lived on the moon and made regular observations about the progress of their construction projects.
In 1835, when the New York Sun published a series of fraudulent articles about the supposed existence of life on the moon (pulling off the so-called “Great Moon Hoax”), it falsely credited Herschel’s son John, a famous astronomer in his own right, with the shocking discovery.