A man made ‘second moon’ to light up this Chinese city

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The Chinese city of Chengdu will have an artificial moon by 2020, complementing the light of Earth’s existing moon, and will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute — the primary contractor for the Chinese space program told, Chinese news site People’s Daily Online (PDO).

In fact, light from the artificial moon is expected to save the city money by doing away with the need for streetlights, Chunfeng added. The new moon will be capable of illuminating an area of up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) in diameter, according to PDO.

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Though the human-made moon will light up only Chengdu, the glowing ball will be visible across China and even overseas, Asia Times reported. The real moon, of course, can usually be seen from anywhere on Earth. But little is known about the height, size and true brightness of the proposed artificial moon – all of which are factors that could affect its visibility to distant observers.

Russia had announced a similar project was in the 1990s, when it launched a solar reflecting system – a space mirror – to produce light ‘equivalent to three to five full moons’ covering an area approximately 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter, the New York Times reported in 1993.

Another Russian attempt to launch a space mirror in 1999 fizzled before it got off the ground, according to The Guardian.

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Regarding concerns about the Chinese artificial moon interfering with astronomical observations or disrupting animals that are active at night, Kang Weimin, the director of the Institute of Optics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said that the light would amount to only a “dusk-like glow,” PDO reported.

While the company is calling it a satellite, which suggests that it will be launched into geostationary orbit – in which the orb circles the Earth above the equator – no details have been released about how the company plans to deploy the ‘artificial moon.’

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