Moonlit skies over the Chinese city of Chengdu may soon get a boost from a second moon.
City officials recently announced plans to build an artificial moon, launching it to hang over Sichuan province’s capital city by 2020, Chinese news site People’s Daily Online (PDO) reported.
The illuminated orb is intended to complement 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 Co. Ltd. (CASC) — the primary contractor for the Chinese space program — told 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.
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.