A scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of a star or other celestial object. Visual magnitude measures only the visible light from the object. On this scale, bright objects have a lower number than dim objects.
Visual (apparent) magnitude is a measure of the brightness of a celestial object as seen from Earth. The lower the number, the brighter the object. Negative numbers indicate extreme brightness. The full moon has an apparent magnitude of -12.6; the sun's is -26.8. We can see objects up to 6th magnitude without a telescope. Apparent magnitude is abbreviated m. This system of rating the brightness of celestial objects was developed by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus in 120 B.C.