All minerals have the ability to reflect light. That is what makes them visible to the human eye. A few minerals have an interesting physical property known as “fluorescence”. These minerals have the ability to temporarily absorb a small amount of light and an instant later release a small amount of light of a different wavelength. This change in wavelength causes a temporary color change of the mineral in the eye of a human observer.
The color change of fluorescent minerals is most spectacular when they are illuminated in darkness by ultraviolet light (which is not visible to humans) and they release visible light. The photographs below are examples of this phenomenon.