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Observations placeholder

Charles Fort - Lights and cities on the Moon



Type of Spiritual Experience



Did the moon once have an atmosphere?  An atmosphere that might have supported life, but which disappeared?  The original reasoning which said the moon has no atmosphere was based on astronomers who said that the moon has virtually no atmosphere, because when a star is passed over by the moon, the star is not refracted.  But as Charles Fort found, in the 1800s, and in the index of Monthly Notices, R. A. S.— there were many instances of stars that have been refracted out of place when occulted by the moon. See the Observatory, 24-210, 313, 315, 345, 414; English Mechanic, 23-197, 279; 26-229; 52—index, "atmosphere"; 81-60; 84-161; 85-108.

The lights seen in this series of observations, were almost as if the inhabitants of the moon – the last remaining inhabitants in a world gradually turning to dust, - were trying to signal for help and possibly signal for help from us! 

Fort conjured up an imaginary scenario, where the desperate inhabitants attempted to signal to us using patterns of light

And this earth in the sky of the moon—smooth and bland and featureless earth—or one of the scenes that make it divine and appalling—jaws of this earth, as seem to be rims of more or less parallel mountain ranges, still shining in sunlight, but surrounded by darkness…..And, upon the moon, the assembling of the Chiaroscuroans, or the lunar communicationists who seek to be intelligible to this earth by means of lights and shades, patterned upon Linné by their own forms and costumes. The Great Pyramid of Linné, at night upon the moon—it stands out as a bold black triangularity pointing to this earth. It slowly suffuses white—the upward drift of white-clad forms, upon the slopes of the Pyramid. The jaws of this earth seem to munch, in variable light. There is no other response. Devotions are the food of the gods.”

Cities and structures on the moon 

Although many ridicule the existence of cities on the moon;  in the 1800s, there were astronomers who believed they had found them.

 In the year 1821, Gruithuisen announced that he had discovered a city of the moon [see left, drawing by him]. He described its main thoroughfare and branching streets. In 1826, he announced that there had been considerable building, and that he had seen new streets.

This formation, which is north of the crater Schroeter, has often been examined by disagreeing astronomers: for a sketch of it, in which a central line and radiating lines are shown, see the English Mechanic, 18-638.

Baron Franz von Paula (Franciscus de Paula) Gruithuisen (March 19, 1774 – June 21, 1852) was not some inexperienced amateur astronomer.  He was by profession, a Bavarian physician and astronomer. He taught medical students before becoming a professor of astronomy at the University of Munich in 1826.   He was also an honest and good soul.  During his period of medical studies and instruction, he was noted for his contributions to urology and lithotripsy. He developed ideas on safer methods to remove bladder stones transurethrally, and his instruments served as models for subsequent devices.

Like others before him, Gruithuisen believed that the Earth's moon was habitable. He made multiple observations of the lunar surface that supported his beliefs, including his announcement of the discovery of the city in the rough terrain to the north of Schröter crater he named the Wallwerk. This region contains a series of somewhat linear ridges that have a fishbone-like pattern.

But by the time Gruithuisen was discovering and analysing these structures, the moon’s inhabitants may well have been dying, their atmosphere drifting away and their world turning to dust.  Dust that would soon eradicate all evidence of their former existence.

Where they went, we may soon follow..........................

A description of the experience

From the Damned

In Philosophical Transactions, 82-27,

is Herschel's report upon many luminous points, which he saw upon--or near?--the moon, during an eclipse…. In 1783 and 1787, Herschel reported more lights on or near the moon, [which he supposed were volcanic].

But bright spots were seen on the moon, November, 1821 (Proc. London Roy. Soc., 2-167).  For four other instances, see Loomis (Treatise on Astronomy, p. 174).

A moving light is reported in Phil. Trans., 84-429. To the writer, it looked like a star passing over the moon--"which, on the next moment's consideration I knew to be impossible." "It was a fixed, steady light upon the dark part of the moon."

Report of the Brit. Assoc., 1847-18,

there is an observation by Rankin, upon luminous points seen on the shaded part of the moon, during an eclipse. They seemed to this observer like reflections of stars. That's not very reasonable: however, we have, in the Annual Register, 1821-687, a light not referable to a star--because it moved with the moon: was seen three nights in succession; reported by Capt. Kater. See Quart. Jour. Roy. Inst., 12-133.

Phil. Trans., 112-237:

Report from the Cape Town Observatory: a whitish spot on the dark part of the moon's limb. Three smaller lights were seen.

From New Lands by Charles Fort


It is our belief that, during eclipses and oppositions and other notable celestial events, lunarians try to communicate with this earth, having a notion that at such times the astronomers of this earth may be more nearly alert.


There have been lights like signals upon the moon. There are two conventional explanations: reflected sunlight and volcanic action. Of course, ultra-conventionalists do not admit that in our own times there has been even volcanic action upon the moon. Our instances will be of lights upon the dark part of the moon, and there are good reasons for thinking that our data do not relate to volcanic action. In volcanic eruptions upon this earth the glow is so accompanied by great volumes of smoke that a clear, definite point of light would seem not to be the appearance from a distance.

1821 - Early in the year 1821—and a light shone out on the moon—a bright point of light in the lunar crater Aristarchus, which was in the dark at the time. It was seen, upon the 4th and the 7th of February, by Capt. Kater (An. Reg., 1821-689); and upon the 5th by Dr. Olbers (Mems. R. A. S., 1-159). It was a light like a star, and was seen again, May 4th and 6th, by the Rev. M. Ward and by Francis Bailey (Mems. R. A. S., 1-159). At Cape Town, nights of Nov. 28th and 29th, 1821, again a star-like light was seen upon the moon (Phil. Trans., 112-237).

1824 - At five o'clock, morning of Oct. 20, 1824, a light was seen upon the dark part of the moon, by Gruithuisen. It disappeared. Six minutes later it appeared again, disappeared again, and then flashed intermittently, until 5:30 A.M., when sunrise ended the observations (Sci. Amer. Sup., 7-2712).

1825 - And, upon Jan. 22, 1825, again shone out the star-like light of Aristarchus, reported by the Rev. J. B. Emmett (Annals of Philosophy, 28-338).

1832 - For Webb's account of a brilliant display of minute dots and streaks of light, in the Mare Crisium, July 4, 1832, see Astro. Reg.; 20-165. I have records of half a dozen similar illuminations here, in about 120 years, all of them when the Mare Crisium was in darkness. There can be no commonplace explanation for such spectacles, or they would have occurred oftener; nevertheless the Mare Crisium is a wide, open region, and at times there may have been uncommon percolations of sunlight, and I shall list no more of these interesting events that seem to me to have been like carnivals upon the moon.

1835 - Dec. 22, 1835—the star-like light in Aristarchus—reported by Francis Bailey—see Proctor's Myths and Marvels, p. 329.

1836 - Feb. 13, 1836—in the western crater of Messier—according to Gruithuisen (Sci. Amer. Sup., 7-2629)—two straight lines of light; between them a dark band that was covered with luminous points.

1847 - Upon the nights of March 18 and 19, 1847, large luminous spots were seen upon the dark part of the moon, and a general glow upon the upper limb, by the Rev. T. Rankin and Prof. Chevalier (Rept. B. A., 1847-18). The whole shaded part of the disc seemed to be a mixture of lights and shades. Upon the night of the 19th, there was a similar appearance upon this earth, an aurora, according to the London newspapers. It looks as if both the moon and this earth were affected by the same illumination, said to have been auroral. I offer this occurrence as indication that the moon is nearby, if moon and earth could be so affected in common.

1847 - But by signaling, I mean something like the appearance that was seen, by Hodgson, upon the dark part of the moon, night of Dec. 11, 1847—a bright light that flashed intermittently. Upon the next night it was seen again (Monthly Notices R. A. S., 8-55).

1860 - In August and September,. 1860, occurred a notable illumination of the spots in Group I. It was accompanied by a single light upon a distant spot.

May 1864 - Upon the night of May 15, 1864, Herbert Ingall, of Camberwell, saw a little to the west of the lunar crater Picard, in the Mare Crisium, a remarkably bright spot (Astro. Reg., 2-264).

October 1864 - Upon Oct. 16, Ingall again saw the light west of Picard.

Jan. I, 1865—a small speck of light, in darkness, under the east foot of the lunar Alps, shining like a small star, watched half an hour by Charles Grover (Astro. Reg., 3-255).

April 10, 1865—west of Picard, according to Ingall—"a most minute point of light, glittering like a star" (Astro. Reg., 3-189).

Sept. 5, 1865—a conspicuous bright spot west of Picard (Astro. Reg., 3-252).  It was seen again by Ingall. He saw it again upon the 7th, but upon the 8th it had gone, and there was a cloudlike effect where the light had been.

Nov. 24, 1865—a speck of light that was seen by the Rev. W. O. Williams, shining like a small star in the lunar crater Carlini (Intel. Obs., II-58).

June, 1866—the star-like light in Aristarchus; reported by Tempel (Denning, Telescopic Work, p. 121).

16th of October, 1866, - the astronomer Schmidt, ….. announced that the isolated object, in the eastern part of the Mare Serenitatis, known as Linné, had changed.
Linné stands out in a blank area like the Pyramid of Cheops in its desert. If changes did occur upon Linné, the conspicuous position seems to indicate selection. Before October, 1866, Linné was well-known as a dark object. Something was whitening an object that had been black.

Dec. 14, 16, 25, 27, 1866 -  Linné was seen as a white spot. But there was something that had the seeming more of a design, or of a pattern, an elaboration upon the mere turning to white of something that had been black—a fine, black spot upon Linné; by Schmidt and Buckingham, in December, 1866 (The Student, 1-261). The most important consideration of all is reviewed by Schmidt in the Rept. B. A., 1867-22—that sunlight and changes of sunlight had nothing to do with the changing appearances of Linné.

Jan. 14, 1867—the white covering, or, at least, seeming of covering, of Linné, had seemingly disappeared—Knott's impression of Linné as a dark spot, but "definition" was poor. January 16—Knott's very strong impression, which, however, he says may have been an illusion, of a small central dark spot upon Linné. Dawes’ observation, of March 15, 1867—"an excessively minute black dot in the middle of Linné."  A geometric figure that was white-bordered and centered with black, formed and dissolved and formed again.

9th of April, 1867- In the Astronomical Register, 5-114, Thomas G. Elger writes that upon the 9th of April, 1867, he was surprised to see, upon the dark part of the moon, a light like a star of the 7th magnitude, at 7:30 P.M. It became fainter, and looked almost extinguished at 9 o'clock. Mr. Elger had seen lights upon the moon before, but never before a light so clear—"too bright to be overlooked by the most careless observer."

May 7, 1867—the beacon-like light of Aristarchus—observed by Tempel, of Marseilles, when Aristarchus was upon the dark part of the moon (Astro. Reg., 5-220).

June 10, 1867, Dawes saw three distinct, roundish, black spots near Sulpicius Gallus, which is near Linné; when looked for upon the 13th, they had disappeared (The Student, 1-261).

Aug. 6, 1867 -  Buckingham saw upon Linné, which was in darkness, "a rising oval spot" (Rept. B. A., 1867-7). In October, 1867, Linné was seen as a convex white spot (Rept. B. A., 1867-8) .

1870 - February and March, 1870—illumination of another group. 

13th of May, 1870 -  there was an "extraordinary display," according to Birt:
27 lights were seen by Pratt, and 28 by Elger, but only 4 by Gledhill, in Brighton. Atmospheric conditions may have made this difference, or the lights may have run up or down a scale from 4 to 28. As to independence of sunlight, Pratt says (Rept. B. A., 1871-88) as to this display, that only the fixed, charted points so shone, and that other parts of the crater were not illuminated, as they would have been to an incidence common throughout.
The play of these lights of Plato—their modulations and their combinations—like luminous music—or a composition of signals in a code that even in this late day may be deciphered. It was like orchestration—and that something like a baton gave direction to Light 22, upon Aug. 12, 1870, to shine a leading part—"remarkable increase of brightness." No. 22 subsided, and the leading part shone out in No. 14. It, too, subsided, and No. 16 brightened.  Perhaps there were definite messages in a Morse-like code. 

Up to April, 1871, the selenographers had recorded 1,600 observations upon the fluctuations of the lights of Plato, and had drawn 37 graphs of individual lights. All graphs and other records were deposited by W. R. Birt in the Library of the Royal Astronomical Society, where presumably they are to this day.

13th of July1875 - Upon the night of the 13th of July, 1875, at midnight, two officers of H.M.S. Coronation, in the Gulf of Siam, saw a luminous projection from the moon's upper limb (Nature, 12-495) . Upon the 14th it was gone, but a smaller projection was seen from another part of the moon's limb. This was in the period of the opposition of Mars.

Feb. 20, 1877 - Upon the night of Feb. 20, 1877, M. Trouvelot, of the Observatory of Meudon, saw, in the lunar crater Eudoxus, which, like almost all other centers of seeming signaling, is in the northwestern quadrant of the moon, a fine line of light (L’Astronomie, 1885-212). It was like a luminous cable drawn across the crater.

March 21, 1877—a brilliant illumination, and not by the light of the sun, according to C. Barrett, in the lunar crater Proclus (Eng. Mec., 25-89).

May 15 and 29, 1877-the bright spot west of Picard (Eng. Mec., 25-335).

May, 1877 - The changes upon Linné were first seen by Schmidt, in 1866, near the time of opposition of Mars. In May, 1877, Dr. Klein announced that a new object had appeared upon the moon. It was close to the center of the visible disc of the moon, and was in a region that had been most carefully studied by the selenographers. In the Observatory, 2-238, is Neison's report from his own memoranda. In the years 1874 and 1875, he had studied this part of the moon, but had not seen this newly reported object in the crater Hyginus, or the object, Hyginus N, according to the selenographers’ terminology. In the Astronomical Register, 17-204, Neison lists, with details, 20 minute examinations of this region, from July, 1870, to August, 1875, in which this conspicuous object was not recorded.

June 14, 1877—a light on the dark part of the moon, resembling a reflection from a moving mirror; reported by Prof. Henry Harrison (Sidereal Messenger, 3-150). June 15—the bright spot west of Picard, according to Birt (Jour. B. A. A., 19-376). Upon the 16th, Prof. Harrison thought that again he saw the moving light of the 14th, but shining faintly. In the English Mechanic, 25-432, Frank Dennett writes, as to an observation of June 17, 1877—"I fancied I could detect a minute point of light shining out of the darkness that filled Bessel."

These are data of extraordinary activity upon the moon preceding the climacteric opposition of Mars, early in September, 1877.

Astro. Reg., 17-251:

Nov. 13, 1877—Hyginus N standing out with such prominence as to be seen at the first glance;  Nov. 14, 1877—not a trace of Hyginus N, though seeing was excellent:

Oct. 3, 1878—the most conspicuous of all appearances of Hyginus N;  Oct. 4, 1878—not a trace of Hyginus N.

Nov. 1, 1879 - Upon the night of Nov. 1, 1879, again in the period of opposition of Mars (opposition November 12) again the bright spot west of Picard (Jour B. A. A., 19-376). But I have several records of observations upon this appearance not in times of opposition of Mars.

Jan. 23, 1880 Something like another luminous cable, or like a shining wall, that was seen in Aristarchus, by Trouvelot, Jan. 23, 1880 (L’Astro., 1885-215);

Jan. 13, 1881- a speck of light in Marius, Jan. 13, 1881, by A. S. Williams (Eng. Mec., 32-494);

May 4, 1881  - unexplained light in Eudoxus, by Trouvelot, May 4, 1881 (L’Astro., 1885-213);

Feb. 5, 1884  - an illumination in Kepler, by Morales, Feb. 5, 1884 (L’Astro., 9-149).

Feb. 19, 1885- In Knowledge, 7-224, William Gray writes that, upon Feb. 19, 1885, he saw, in Hercules, a dull, deep, reddish appearance.

Feb. 21, 1885 - In L’Astronomie, 1885-227, Lorenzo Kropp, an astronomer of Paysandu, Uruguay, writes that, upon Feb. 21, 1885, he had seen, in Cassini, a formation not far from Hercules, both of them in the northwestern quadrant of the moon, a reddish smoke or mist. He had heard that several other persons had seen, not a misty appearance, but a star-like light here, and upon the 22nd he had seen a definite light, himself, shining like the planet Saturn.

May 11, 1885—two lights upon the moon (L’Astro., 9-73).

May 11, 1886—two lights upon the moon (L’Astro., 6-312).

Nov. 23, 1887 - In L’Astronomie, 1888-75, Dr. Klein publishes an account of de Speissen's observation of Nov. 23, 1887—a luminous triangle on the floor of Plato. Flakes of light moving toward Plato, this night of Nov. 23, 1887, from all the other craters of the moon; a blizzard of shining points gathering into light-drifts in Plato; then the denizens of Aristarchus and of Kepler, and dwellers from the lunar Alps, each raising his torch, marching upon a triangular path, making the triangle shine in the dark—conceivably. Other formations have been seen in Plato, but, according to my records, this symbol that shone in the dark had never been seen before, and has not been seen since.

March 30, 1889—a black spot that was seen for the first time, by Gaudibert, near the center of Copernicus (L’Astro., 1890-235). May 11, 1889—an object as black as ink upon a rampart of Gassendi (L’Astro., 1889-275). It had never been reported before; at the time of the next lunation, it was not seen again. March 30, 1889—a new black spot in Plinius (L’Astro., 1890-187).

Sept. 13, 1889 -  An appearance in Plinius, Sept. 13, 1889, was reported by Prof. Thury, of Geneva—a black spot with an "intensely white" border.

Nov. 7, 1891 - The star-like light of Aristarchus—it is a long time since latest preceding appearance (May 7, 1867). Then it cannot be attributed to commonplace lunar circumstances. The light was seen Nov. 7, 1891, by M. d’Adjuda, of the Observatory of Lisbon—"a very distinct, luminous point" (L’Astro., 11-33)

April 1, 1893 -  a shaft of light was seen projecting from the moon, by M. de Moraes, in the Azores. A similar appearance was seen, Sept. 25, 1893, at Paris, by M. Gaboreau (L’Astro., 13-34).

March 1903 - In the Bull. Soc. Astro. de France, 17-205, 315, 447, it is said that upon the first and the third of March, 1903, a light like a little star, flashing intermittently, was seen by M. Rey, in Marseilles, and by Maurice Gheury, in London, in the lunar crater Aristarchus. March 28, 1903—opposition of Mars.

Moon structures

The background section has mentioned Gruithuisen's  city in the rough terrain to the north of Schröter crater he named the Wallwerk. This region contains a series of somewhat linear ridges that have a fishbone-like pattern.  But there are others.

Sword - There is one especial object upon the moon that has been described and photographed and sketched so often that I shall not go into the subject. For many records of observations, see the English Mechanic and L’Astronomie. It is an object shaped like a sword, near the crater Birt.

Hills and triangle - In a letter, published in the Astronomical Register, 20-167, Mr. Birmingham calls attention to a formation that suggests the architectural upon the moon—"a group of three hills in a slightly acute-angled triangle, and connected by three lower embankments."

X shaped object - There is a geometric object, or marking, shaped like an "X," in the crater Eratosthenes (Sci. Amer. Sup., 59-24, 469);a striking symbolic-looking thing or sign, or attempt by means of something obviously not topographic, to attract attention upon this earth, in the crater Plinius (Eng. Mec., 35-34);

Reticulations, like those of a city's squares -  in Plato (Eng. Mec., 64-253); and there is a structural-looking composition of angular lines in Gassendi (Eng. Mec., 101466).  A group of astronomers had been observing extraordinary lights in the lunar crater Plato. The lights had definite arrangement. They were so individualized that Birt and Elger, and the other selenographers, who had combined to study them, had charted and numbered them. They were fixed in position, but rose and fell in intensity.
The grouped lights in Plato were so distinctive, so clear and even brilliant, that if such lights had ever shone before, it seems that they must have been seen by the Schroeters, Gruithuisens, Beers and Mädlers, who had studied and charted the features of the moon. For several of Gledhill's observations, from which I derive my impressions of these lights, see Rept. B. A., 1871-80—"I can only liken them to the small discs of stars, seen in the transit-instrument";  "just like small stars in the transit instrument, upon a windy night!"
In April 17, 1870 there was another illumination in Plato. As to his observations of May 10-12, 1870, Birt gives his opinion that the lights of Plato were not effects of sunlight.

Gamma symbol - Upon the floor of Littrow are six or seven spots arranged in the form of the Greek letter Gamma (Eng. Mec., 101-47). This arrangement may be of recent origin, having been discovered Jan. 31, 1915. The Greek letter makes difficulty only for those who do not want to think easily upon this subject.

Curved wall - For a representation of something that looked like a curved wall upon the moon, see L’Astronomie, 1888-110.

Viaducts - As to appearances like viaducts, see L’Astronomie, 1885-213. The lunar craters are not in all instances the simple cirques that they are commonly supposed to be. I have many different impressions of some of them: I remember one sketch that looked like an owl with a napkin tucked under his beak. However, it may be that the general style of architecture upon the moon is Byzantine, very likely, or not so likely, domed with glass, giving the dome-effect that has so often been commented upon.

The source of the experience

Fort, Charles

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