Ultraviolet Vision

An ultraviolet camera shows pigments that are invisible to our eyes.

How to Use It

Hold up a graphic to see how it appears on the two cameras, and learn how animals use UV sensitivity in the wild.

What Science Tells Us

Ultraviolet (UV) light is light with wavelengths from 10 nm to 400 nm. Most people cannot see UV light, or see it only very weakly. The cornea (lens) of the eye naturally filters out some UV, and the strength of this filter increases with age. Young people or people who have had corneal replacement surgery can see further into the UV than other people

Human eyes cannot distinguish ultraviolet light from violet light – we see them as the same colour. Animals with a UV sensitive cone cell see UV light as a different colour to violet. This can offer an evolutionary advantage for a number of reasons, some of which are explored on the cards in the exhibit.

Things to Try or Ask

How does skin with sunscreen or freckles appear on the two cameras?

How do prescription glasses appear on the two cameras?

Finding the Science in Your World

We protect our skin from the intense ultraviolet component of sunlight using sunscreen and protective glasses. They both contain pigments that absorb ultraviolet light, so they appear dark on the camera.