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albedo

albedo (ălbēˈdō) [key], reflectivity of the surface of a planet, moon, asteroid, or other celestial body that does not shine by its own light. Albedo is measured as the fraction of incident light that the surface reflects back in all directions. A perfect reflector by definition has an albedo of unity, i.e., all the incident light is reflected; a body that reflects no light at all would have an albedo of zero. Real surfaces have albedos between these values. The albedos of planets, moons, and asteroids provide valuable information about the structure and composition of their surfaces. The dark regions on the earth's moon give it the very low average albedo of 0.07, while highly reflective clouds give Venus an albedo of 0.85, the highest of any body in the solar system.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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