A photo essay. To view all 13 images, check out the email edition.

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As a blast of arctic air approaches New Haven, I’d rather think about a more pleasing set of gases: the ones inside the slender, snaking, siren glass tubes we call neon signs.

In fact, “neon sign” is often a misnomer. Neon, the gas, glows red when stimulated by an electric current, but not every neon sign does. According to this 89-year-old sign company, signs filled with argon glow blue, while xenon glows lavender, helium pink, mercury vapor light blue and krypton white-yellow. Gases are often mixed for chromatic or chemical purposes, and krypton’s relatively neutral hue makes it a favored ingredient in signs where it’s the glass, not the gas, providing the color.

Still, “neon sign” is an alluring catch-all, as good at catching our minds as the signs are our eyes. Here are some local ones that have caught mine.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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