Brightness - Terminology


The adjective bright derives from an Old English beorht with the same meaning via metathesis giving Middle English briht. The word is from a Common Germanic *berhtaz, ultimately from a PIE root with a closely related meaning, *bhereg- "white, bright".

"Brightness" was formerly used as a synonym for the photometric term luminance and (incorrectly) for the radiometric term radiance. As defined by the US Federal Glossary of Telecommunication Terms (FS-1037C), "brightness" should now be used only for non-quantitative references to physiological sensations and perceptions of light.

A given target luminance can elicit different perceptions of brightness in different contexts; see, for example, White's illusion.

In the RGB color space, brightness can be thought of as the arithmetic mean μ of the red, green, and blue color coordinates (although some of the three components make the light seem brighter than others, which, again, may be compensated by some display systems automatically):

Brightness is also a color coordinate in the HSB or HSV color space (hue, saturation, and brightness or value).

With regard to stars, brightness is quantified as apparent magnitude and absolute magnitude.

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