China Plans to Launch Artificial Moon and Eliminate Night

How Important is Darkness to Us?

January 29, 2019
Anshun Bridge Chengdu

Share: 

Rate this Post: 

Average: 3.5 (10 votes)

As you may have heard, China announced that their artificial Moon will be launched in 2020. No more night! Yes, they’re abolishing full darkness. It’s a bad idea but not a new one. 

The idea is an enormous 80 foot mirror placed into a geosynchronous orbit where it will remain glued to the same spot in the sky. From its altitude of 22,300 miles it will focus sunlight onto the city of Chengdu in southwestern China. That city of 14 million people will then be continually illuminated. No more night.

Russia actually launched such an artificial moon in 1999 to illuminated parts of Siberia, but the satellite failed soon after launch. So this idea is definitely workable, and not even particularly high-tech since the giant mirror needn’t be of telescope quality to do the job.

chengdu-748985_1920_full_width.jpg

No More Night

The question is, should we abolish full darkness? 

The proposed Chinese space mirror would look like an intensely brilliant dot, about 10,000 times brighter than the planet Venus. It will appear eight times brighter than the full moon, but all that luminosity will not be in a discernible disk like the real Moon, but instead be concentrated in a dimensionless point like a star. The resultant dazzling spot would be uncomfortable to look at directly, and possibly hazardous to the eye.

But it’s true: street lights would no longer be necessary. It would end up being far less expensive then installing  thousands of street lights and supplying the power to operate them.

festival_full_width.jpg

A Really Bad Idea

Why is this a monumental bad idea? Beyond the aesthetic and astronomical concerns, and the zoological hazards to birds and other nocturnal animals, there are the biological issues.

Humans have evolved to where we need periodic darkness.

The natural nightly cessation of brightness creates a vital cycle of melatonin production, and scientists have found that women who work the graveyard shift or those whose bedrooms have even small degrees of incessant nocturnal illumination have increased breast cancer rates. Indeed, a lack of full darkness has been found to be the surest of all breast cancer causes. 

So, let’s just make sure that this fake-Moon business never happens here. 

Now why is the sky dark at night?

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

24 Hour Sun Light?

Have they lost their minds? The reasons that this is a bad idea are endless and the major ones are too obvious to waste time talking about. Is long as it only effect those morons, I couldn't care less. It effects the US, we have missiles to take care of such things.

Just an old man's 10 cents.

One more thing

Can anyone, besides these fools, imagine, how much good, all THAT money, they've used, and are going to use, putting this "thing" up, would do, for the people in that country??
For THAT much money, I don't want to see another article, or someone tell me, that their economy is bad, or I'd go through the roof!! (That means, I'd be FURIOUS!)

Playing God

Men cannot stop trying to be "god". Between genetically modification, GMO's, or genetic engineering, chemtrails, and lord knows, a hundred other ways, they just can't stop, thinking they can change the world for the better, when their only making it worse. And now China...
Do they NOT have any nocturnal animals? It may be good for a few things, but it'll be worse for more things, but they don't worry about THAT!

Please list scientific sources

"...a lack of full darkness has been found to be THE SUREST of all breast cancer causes..."
scientific sources, please?

It has to do with Melatonin production!

"Light exposure at night can heighten the risk for breast cancer because of the decreased release of melatonin which, in turn, promotes the release of estrogen. The present study examines whether light exposure increases the risk for breast cancer. Included in the study were 813 female patients aged between 20 and 74. The patients were questioned about their sleeping habits during the last 10 years, about the number of times they woke up at night, whether they switched on the light after waking up and whether they worked in shifts. Moreover they were questioned about the degree of darkness in their bedrooms [6].

A positive correlation was found between breast cancer and shift work for over 10 years. Moreover, a correlation was found between breast cancer and, among other things, the number of times a patient woke up at night. A significant correlation between the degree of light/darkness in the bedroom could not be found. Likewise, no correlation could be found between breast cancer and switching on the light after waking up at night.

Melatonin is released at night and is produced by the epiphysis. Its release starts about 2 h before bedtime, reaches its peak 2 to 3 h after falling asleep and falls again with waking up 5. Melatonin is called the “hormone of darkness”; its release is suppressed by light. Experimental studies indicate the antineoplastic effect of melatonin due to several mechanisms: antioxitant, antimitotic, modulation capability of the immune system and of the lipid metabolism. Melatonin seems to be involved in the regulation of tumours. Moreover, melatonin blocks the estrogen receptors and influences the enzyme aromatase, which has an impact on the production of estradiol. While many studies show a relation between a reduced release of melatonin and night shifts, the evidence for the connection between sleep duration and the release of melatonin is still unclear. Because of this connection, shift work at night is considered a potential risk factor within the context of public health [7]. Consequently, improving the sleep quality of shift workers, i.e. reducing the frequency of waking up during sleep, could be an important preventive measure against severe insomnia [8] as well as against melatonin deficiency.

Light exposure at night, interruptions of the sleep-wake-rhythm and resulting interruptions of the melatonin production are factors which are highly likely to contribute to a better understanding of the causes of breast cancer. Changes in the melatonin level cause changes in the level of sex hormones in the blood. This in turn increases the risk of hormone-induced diseases including breast carcinoma. Several international studies show an increased presence of breast cancer in night nurses. Therefore, it is recommendable to offer them the opportunity for regular preventive medical check-ups because they belong to a risk group for breast cancer "

I put space in the web address, wouldn't let me post direct link

h ttps:// w w w. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov /pmc /articles/ PMC3405398/

An imaginative but misguided idea.

In addition to the issues you mention - and I understand that people who move to high latitudes, living in perpetual daylight during the summer, have similar physiological and psychological problems - what happens when the mirror drifts just a bit and the light is focused on the wrong part of the globe? Do the Chinese just blow it up, or immediately launch an expensive repair mission which will cost more than the streetlights they tried to replace? It may be a technological showpiece and a matter of national pride - look, we've conquered darkness! - but I don't think they've thought it through.

FREE BEGINNERS GARDEN GUIDE!

+ a 4-season guide to raising chickens!

You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store