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posted by chromas on Friday October 19 2018, @01:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the Checkmate,-moon-believers! dept.

Who needs street lights? Chinese city plans fake moon

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

The capital of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan plans to launch an illumination satellite in 2020. According to an article in 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 between 10 and 80km (six to 50 miles), while the precise illumination range could be controlled within tens of metres – enabling it to replace street lights.

The vision was shared by Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of the private space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (Casc), at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event held in Chengdu last week. Wu reportedly said testing had begun on the satellite years ago and the technology had now evolved enough to allow for launch in 2020. It is not clear whether the plan has the backing of the city of Chengdu or the Chinese government, though Casc is the main contractor for the Chinese space programme.

Also at The Guardian and Inverse.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Unixnut on Friday October 19 2018, @09:27AM (1 child)

    by Unixnut (5779) on Friday October 19 2018, @09:27AM (#750839)

    (a) In my experience they are jarring. My eyes adjust to the night, then a light randomly comes on when I get near it, surprising me, and ruining my night vision, then it turns off when I carry on, rendering me with night blindness until my eyes adjust a few mins later, only for the cycle to repeat next time I approach such a light.

    (b) People tend to want to illuminate at a distance. This is why torches are used at night, they throw the light far ahead, so you can see at a distance. Having a light turn on just above you is of limited use. You want the path ahead of you lit as far as possible. Most of the motion sensitive lights I know only turn on within a couple of meters of you.

    (c) They are complex and error prone. All kinds of things can set them off at random points, things like leaves rustling, or wild animals, or birds. The opposite is also true, where the motion sensors stop working, and there is no light at all. They are more expensive then standard one and require higher maintenance.

    If you want to see the night sky, save on money and help reduce energy, do what they do round my area. You have cheap standard streetlights, and you turn them all off from 1am till 6am, completely. Anyone who is out at that time will use a torch, even on their phone if needs be. Cars (what few there are, maybe one every 2 hours) have headlights since forever, so they are not a problem, and on a clear night, with the full moon, you can see by moonlight. It is also cheap, because the complete investment doesn't involve ripping out all the streetlamps and fitting motion sensor enabled ones. Instead your total investment is a master switch in the local distribution box with a 24h timer.

    Plus, as all the other villages and towns in the region turn off the lights at the same time, you get phenomenal night skies, you can really see so much of the universe, it is mindblowing (especially for me, who originally grew up in a dense urban area).

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19 2018, @11:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19 2018, @11:23AM (#750860)

    a) This really depends on the density of the light pole field. But the variation is a killer, it takes like 30 minutes or so to perfectly accommodate for a healthy person! So you might be fairly blind all the time if the lights are badly placed.
    b) This is a good point but we could monitor not just movement but also speed and direction and illuminate accordingly. Does make things again a little more complex.
    c) KISS is always a great idea. And it's a shame we cannot see the wonderful night sky in cities. And already more than half of humanity lives in cities so they might never have seen the majestic star field above us.

    Yet another question is if you have street lights, why do they have to be so eye-piercingly bright. It's a street, not a hospital operations room..!

    I believe this Chinese grand scheme is in the same vein as the Transit Elevated Bus. []