How an 1892 ‘Trip to the Moon’ Changed How We Think About Space

An illustration of “Scene #6: Solar Eclipse as Seen from the Moon,” from “A Trip to the Moon.” Scientific America/Public Domain Most days in 1892, ticket holders at Manhattan’s Carnegie Music Hall enjoyed programs of standard entertainment: the New York Philharmonic; a famous speaker; a ragtime show. But starting in February, every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, they got something a little different. As soon as the theater’s lights went down, the sun came up again, rising over an onstage lake that rippled just like the real thing. Next, the moon began to rise next to the sun, and gradually, dramatically obscured it. This was Scene #1 of A Trip to the Moon—a perfect rendition of the total solar eclipse of 1887, yanked through time and space and reconstructed inside the theater. “Audiences had, in a sense, seen it all,” writes the media scholar Artemis Willis. But when curtain lifted […] Read More