Somewhere Outside the Rainbow: Imaging Across the EM Spectrum

Somewhere Outside the Rainbow: Imaging Across the EM Spectrum

Toolsday banner

I recently received a review copy of a book called Alien Vision: Exploring the Electromagnetic Spectrum with Imaging Technology, published in 2011 through professional optical engineering society SPIE. The author, Austin Richards, is a senior scientist at FLIR Systems, and does a great job of explaining his subject in straightforward terms without being patronizing or sacrificing technical rigor. The book is pricey for a popular treatment, but I’m enjoying it tremendously. And the premise was so intriguing to me that I decided to see if I could put together my own imaging-based tour of the spectrum using web-based resources.

This post is the result. Here are 17 images captured at electromagnetic wavelengths ranging from one meter down to one trillionth of a meter, from radio waves to gamma rays, arranged in order of increasing frequency / energy. Each is accompanied by a caption identifying the instrument used to record the image, the approximate wavelength at which it was recorded, the subject, and a link for those seeking more information.


Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan