Glossary term: Color

Description: The color of an astronomical object can carry important information about its physical properties. Even with the naked eye, a blueish star you see in the sky, such as Alkaid at the end of the "handle" of the Big Dipper, will be considerably hotter than a reddish star, such as Betelgeuse at the shoulder of Orion. In order to quantify color, astronomers typically determine a star's brightness when seen through one of several possible specialized blue filters and compare to the brightness through a red filter. Several distinct color definitions of this kind, comparing brightness in specific different filters, are in use. The results can be used in statistical analyzes. An example are color-magnitude diagrams, which plot object color against object brightness.

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The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".