China to launch artificial ‘moon’ into orbit to light up cities

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Although Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province, is set to be the man-made moon's focus, astronomers across the globe will reportedly be able to spot the satellite's glow as they search the night sky.

In the latest completely bonkers idea to come out of China, the city of Chengdu is apparently planning to launch an "artificial moon" which would effectively make street lights obsolete.

Moonlit skies over the Chinese city of Chengdu may soon get a boost from a second moon.

Wu reportedly said testing had begun on the satellite years ago and the technology had now evolved enough to allow for launch in 2020.

Details on the "illumination satellite" are few, but Wu said it would be eight times brighter than the actual moon, could light an area 10 to 80 kilometers (6.2 to 50 miles) wide, and that its exact lighting range could be controlled within a few dozen meters, according to the People's Daily Online.

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The People's Daily report credited the idea to "a French artist, who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors above the Earth which could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round".

IFLScience reports that "the moon would be a satellite with a special coating that would reflect the light of the Sun onto Chengdu during the night".

Some expressed concerns about light pollution and potentially negative impact on animals.

But according to Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, the light will amount only to a 'dusk-like glow'. Still, the underlying concept embraced by the experiment - which The New York Times described at the time as a test of "the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons" - remains an enticing prospect.

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