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List of Things that Glow in the Dark

Things That Glow in the Dark

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This is a list of things that glow in the dark, including objects, chemicals and products that are known to glow via phosphorescence or glow under a black light from fluorescence.

Radium

This is a glowing radium painted dial from the 1950s.
Arma95, Creative Commons License
Radium is a radioactive element that emits a pale blue color as it decays. However, it is best known for its use in self-luminous paints, which tended to be green. The radium itself didn't emit green light, but the decay of the radium provided the energy to light the phosphor used in the paint.

Plutonium

Plutonium is highly pyrophoric.
Haschke, Allen, Morales (2000). "Surface and Corrosion Chemistry of Plutonium". Los Alamos Science.
Not all radioactive elements glow, but plutonium reacts with oxygen in the air causing it to glow a deep red, like a burning ember.

Phosphorus

White phosphorus powder glows green in the presence of oxygen.
Luc Viatour, Creative Commons License
Phosphorus, like plutonium, glows because it is reacting with oxygen in the air. Phosphors and phosphorus glow an eerie green color. Although it glows, phosphorus is not radioactive.

Radon

This is not radon, but radon looks like this.\
Jurii, Creative Commons License
Radon is a colorless gas at ordinary room temperatures, but it becomes phosphorescent as it is cooled. Radon glows yellow at its freezing point, deepening toward orange-red as the temperature is lowered even further.

Foxfire

This fungus is displaying the type of bioluminescence known as foxfire.
Ylem, public domain
Foxfire is a type of bioluminescence emitted by some fungi. Foxfire most often glows green, but a rare red light occurs in some species.

Tritium

The night sights on some guns and other weapons use tritium-based paint.
Wiki Phantoms
Tritium is an isotope of the element hydrogen that emits a greenish light. You'll find tritium in some self-luminous paints and gun sights.

Tonic Water

The quinine in tonic water causes it to grow bright blue under a black light.
Anne Helmenstine
Both regular and diet tonic water contain a chemical called quinine which glows bright blue when exposed to black or ultraviolet light.

White Paper

This is just an ordinary paper airplane. Most white paper glows brilliant blue under black light.
Eric Helmenstine
Whitening agents are added to bleached paper to help it appear bright. While you don't ordinarily see the whiteners, they cause white paper to appear blue under ultraviolet light.

Actinium

Actinium is a radioactive silvery metal.
Justin Urgitis
Actinium is a radioactive element that glows in the dark with a pale blue light.

Jellyfish

Many jellyfish glow in the dark.
strollers, Creative Commons License
Jellyfish and related species often exhibit bioluminescence. Also, some species contain fluorescent proteins, causing them to glow when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Glowsticks or Lightsticks

Glowsticks or lightsticks are available in a variety of colors.
David Mülheims
Glowsticks or lightsticks emit light as a result of a chemical reaction or chemiluminescence. Generally this is a two-part reaction in which energy is evolved and then used to excite a colored fluorescent dye.

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