A hygrometer /haɪˈɡrɒmɪtər/ is an instrument used for measuring the water vapor in the atmosphere. Humidity measurement instruments usually rely on measurements of some other quantity such as temperature, pressure, mass or a mechanical or electrical change in a substance as moisture is absorbed. By calibration and calculation, these measured quantities can lead to a measurement of humidity. Modern electronic devices use temperature of condensation (the dew point), or changes in electrical capacitance or resistance to measure humidity differences. The first crude hygrometer was invented by the Italian Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci in 1480 and a more modern version was created by Swiss polymath Johann Heinrich Lambert in 1755.
The maximum amount of water vapor that can be held in a given volume of air (saturation) varies greatly by temperature; cold air can hold less mass of water per unit volume than hot air. Most instruments respond to (or are calibrated to read) relative humidity (RH), which is the amount of water relative to the maximum at a particular temperature expressed as per cent.