MOONS is the new Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph currently under construction for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO. This remarkable instrument combines, for the first time, the collecting power of an 8-m telescope, 1000 fibres with individual robotic positioners, and both low- and high-resolution simultaneous spectral coverage across the 0.64-1.8 micron wavelength range. This facility will provide the astronomical community with a powerful, world-leading instrument able to serve a wide range of Galactic, extragalactic and cosmological studies. Construction is now proceeding full steam ahead and this overview article presents some of the science goals and the technical description of the MOONS instrument. More detailed information on the MOONS surveys is provided in the other dedicated articles in this Messenger issue.