Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Apollo. Apollo Wonders, “What is a color hex code?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Apollo!

Do you have a favorite color? We really like #75488b, ourselves. Of course, many people have more than one favorite color. We’re also partial to #eb8b2d. How about you? 

Wait. What do you mean, those aren’t colors? Of course they are! Sure, most people may not recognize their names. They’re not as easy to understand as the words “purple” and “orange.” But we’re still describing colors—we’re just using hex color codes.

Have you ever heard of hex color codes? If so, you may know a thing or two about coding. Hex color codes are used by programmers, designers, and others to tell a computer which colors to display for a specific program or webpage. 

How do they work? Hex color codes may seem complex at first, but once you understand what they mean, the codes are pretty straightforward. First of all, each code starts with a hash symbol (#). This is always followed by six characters. That’s actually where the codes get their name—it comes from the Greek word Hexa, which means “six.”

To understand how hex color codes work, think of the six characters as three pairs. The first pair of characters tell the computer how much red pigment to include. The second pair refers to green and the third pair to blue. 

How are the characters themselves determined? For each color, they can range from 00 (no pigment) to ff (highest possible pigment). For example, #ff0000 would produce a bright red. #0d98ba would show up as blue-green.

Of course, hex color codes aren’t the only option for programmers and designers. RGB colors are also common. Can you guess what those three letters stand for? That’s right! Red, green, and blue.

RGB colors always contain three numbers written in parentheses. The numbers can start at 0 (no pigment) and go as high as 255 (highest possible pigment). For example, (0, 0, 255) would produce a bright blue.

Why do people use hex color codes? They’re a great way to achieve specific colors on a computer. For example, companies and brands that want their logos to show up just right on the screen put a lot of thought into choosing the right hex color code. RGB colors are also very effective and a common choice.

Are you interested in learning more about hex color codes? Many people work with them to create beautifully colored designs every day. Practicing with these codes could give you a very useful skill for the future!

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.6, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3, NGSS.ETS1.A

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