|Portrait of a man-bat ("Vespertilio-homo")|
The story was advertised on August 21, 1835, as an upcoming feature allegedly reprinted from The Edinburgh Courant.The first in a series of six was published four days later on August 25.
The articles described fantastic animals on the Moon, including bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tail-less beavers and bat-like winged humanoids ("Vespertilio-homo") who built temples. There were trees, oceans and beaches. These discoveries were supposedly made with "an immense telescope of an entirely new principle."
The author of the narrative was ostensibly Dr. Andrew Grant, the travelling companion and amanuensis of Sir John Herschel, but Grant was fictitious.Eventually, the authors announced that the observations had been terminated by the destruction of the telescope, by means of the Sun causing the lens to act as a "burning glass," setting fire to the observatory.
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.