Learning to Recognize Element Spectra

It is possible to recognize each element visually by its spectrum. But how can anyone be familiar with all of them, when there are 98 elements with known visual spectra? In these pages, we'll categorize them and greatly simplify this memorization task by comparing similarities and pointing out differences. For best results, we recommend a 1920x1080 monitor resolution to view these pages.

This guide uses color names to describe the visual appearance of various spectral features. Color perception varies slightly from individual to individual, but people with normal color vision perceive wavelengths fairly consistently. Colors can appear different next to other colors, for example sodium yellow looks orange next to iron's mess of bright green lines, but the difference is small enough that generally we can assign color names to reference wavelengths and have the names be accurate most of the time.

Color names used in this guide, and their representative wavelengths, include:

660nmCherry red 520nmEmerald green
630nmRed 500nmTeal
610nmOrange-red 490nmAqua
595nmOrange 480nmAzure
590nmAmber 465nmBlue
580nmYellow 450nmIndigo
565nmChartreuse 420nmViolet
550nmGrass green       390nmDeep violet

Wavelengths from 700-800nm are considered far-red.

Next: The Easiest Spectra
Table of Contents

Privacy Policy | Back to home page.