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Color temperature is a parameter describing the color of a visible light source by comparing it to the color of light emitted by an idealized opaque, non-reflective body. The temperature of the ideal emitter that matches the color most closely is defined as the color temperature of the original visible light source. Color temperature is usually measured in kelvins. The color temperature scale describes only the color of light emitted by a light source, which may actually be at a different (and often much lower) temperature. Color temperature has important applications in lighting, photography, videography, publishing, manufacturing, astrophysics and other fields. In practice, color temperature is most meaningful for light sources that correspond somewhat closely to the color of some black body, i.e., light in a range going from red to orange to yellow to white to bluish white. Although the concept of correlated color temperature extends the definition to any visible light, the color temperature of a green or a purple light rarely is useful information. Color temperature is conventionally expressed in kelvins, using the symbol K, a unit for absolute temperature. Color temperatures over 5000 K are called "cool colors" (bluish), while lower color temperatures (2700–3000 K) are called "warm colors" (yellowish). "Warm" in this context is a with respect to traditional categorization of colors, not a reference to black body temperature. The hue-heat hypothesis states that low color temperatures will feel warmer while higher color temperatures will feel cooler. The spectral peak of warm-colored light is closer to infrared, and most natural warm-colored light sources emit significant infrared radiation. The fact that "warm" lighting in this sense actually has a "cooler" color temperature often leads to confusion.

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