|Mounted arc tube.
In some ways, gases are a pain from a sample point of view. With the exception of chlorine and bromine they all look exactly the same: Like nothing at all. My beautiful set of noble gas flasks is beautiful because of the flasks, not what's in them, which is indistinguishable from plain air or vacuum. (So much so that I got them for a bargain price because the seller thought the were empty.)
But set up an electric current through almost any gas, and things are completely different. The current ionizes the gas, and when the electrons fall back into their orbits, they emit light of very specific frequencies. These spectral lines can easily be seen with even a very cheap pocket spectroscope, and they give the glowing tubes very unusual colors. So unusual in fact that they are basically impossible to photograph. The pictures here simply don't look at all like the real colors of these tubes, which cannot be represented by the limited red, green, and blue mixtures available in computer or printed photographs.
David Franco helped arrange these tubes, which were made by a guy who specializes in noble gas tubes and Geissler tubes (click the source link). I have tubes installed in each of the five stable noble gas spots in the table, hooked up underneath to a high voltage transformer. They are really quite beautiful. On my Noble Rack page I have all the pictures collected, along with pictures of arcs I made in my other collection of noble gas flasks.
Source: Special Effects Neon
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 22 November, 2002