Optics is the science that describes the behavior and properties of light and the interaction of light with matter.


Optics also explains optical phenomena. It is any observable event which results from the interaction of light and matter.

Common optical phenomena are often due to the interaction of light from the sun or moon with the atmosphere, clouds, water, or dust and other particulates. One common example would be the rainbow, when light from the sun is reflected and refracted by water droplets.


The field of optics usually describes the behavior of visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light.

In practice, the vast majority of optical phenomena can be accounted for using the electromagnetic description of light.

Other disciplines[]

The field of optics has its own identity, societies, and conferences.

The pure science aspects of the field are often called optical science or optical physics.

Applied optical sciences are often called optical engineering.

Applications of optical engineering related specifically to illumination systems are called illumination engineering.

Each of these disciplines tends to be quite different in its applications, technical skills, focus, and professional affiliations.

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