Luminescence is emission of light by a substance not resulting from heat; it is thus a form of cold body radiation. It can be caused by chemical reactions, electrical energy, subatomic motions, or stress on a crystal. This distinguishes luminescence from incandescence, which is light emitted by a substance as a result of heating. Historically, radioactivity was thought of as a form of "radio-luminescence", although it is today considered to be separate since it involves more than electromagnetic radiation. The term 'luminescence' was introduced in 1888 by Eilhard Wiedemann.
The dials, hands, scales and signs of aviation and navigational instruments and markings are often coated with luminescent materials in a process known as 'luminising'.
^E. Wiedemann (1888) "Über Fluorescenz und Phosphorescenz, I. Abhandlung" (On fluorescence and phosphorescence, first paper), Annalen der Physik, 34: 446-463. From page 447: "Ich möchte für diese zweite Art der Lichterregung, für die uns eine einheitliche Benennung fehlt, den Namen Luminescenz vorschlagen, und Körper, die in dieser Weise leuchten, luminescirende nennen." [For this second type of light excitation, for which we lack a consistent name, I would like to suggest the name of "luminescence", and call "luminescing" [any] bodies that glow in this way.]
^A Brief History of Fluorescence and Phosphorescence before the Emergence of Quantum Theory Bernard Valeur and Mario N. Berberan-Santos J. Chem. Educ., 2011, 88 (6), pp 731–738 doi:10.1021/ed100182h