Culture Magazine

Chengdu's Going to Light It's Streets with an Artificial Moon

By Bbenzon @bbenzon

In Chengdu, there is reportedly an ambitious plan afoot for replacing the city's streetlights: boosting the glow of the real moon with that of a more powerful fake one.

The south-western Chinese city plans to launch an illumination satellite in 2020. According to an account in the People's Daily, the artificial moon is "designed to complement the moon at night", though it would be eight times as bright.

The "dusk-like glow" of the satellite would be able to light an area with a diameter of 10-80km, while the precise illumination range could be controlled within tens of metres - enabling it to replace streetlights. [...]

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".

The likelihood of Chengdu's fake moon rising remains to be seen. But there are precedents for this moonage daydream rooted in science, though the technology and ambitions differ.

In 2013 three large computer-controlled mirrors were installed above the Norwegian town of Rjukan to track the movement of the sun and reflect its rays down on the town square. "Rjukan - or at least, a small but vital part of Rjukan - is no longer stuck where the sun don't shine," reported the Guardian at the time.

H/t Tyler Cowen.


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