The Heaven’s Gate group achieved notoriety in 1997 when one of its founders convinced 38 followers to commit mass suicide. Members reportedly believed themselves to be aliens, awaiting a spaceship that would arrive with Comet Hale-Bopp. The suicide was undertaken in the apparent belief that their souls would be transported onto the spaceship, which they thought was hiding behind the comet. They underwent elaborate preparations for their trip, including purchasing and wearing matching shoes.
For a time, group members lived in a darkened house where they would simulate the experience they expected to have during their long journey in outer space.