How to Use a Microscope (Properly) – Step by Step

Before You Start

Familiarizing Yourself

The first step is to go over all parts of the microscope and get a good theme of where everything is and what everything does – particularly any dials or other interactional features. This is best done while standing in front of the microscope where you would normally use it, but you should besides do a “ walk around ” to view any features that are hidden from view when using the device.

Preparing Slides

Microscope slides should be prepared advance and should include a cover case ( fictile or looking glass, depending on your determination and budget ). If the objective lens should touch the chute ( which should not happen anyhow of the device is used correctly, see below ), these covers will prevent or minimize damage caused. The “ stage clips ” should be used to secure the slither ( and cover ) to the phase. Pushing down in the back conclusion of these phase clips will open them .

Step by Step – How to Use a Compound Microscope

  1. Turn the Objective Lenses so that the longest lens (the lowest power one) is
    in viewing position. Be sure that there is room for it to move into place.
    Lower the Mechanical stage to make more room if needed.
  2. Place the slide on the Mechanical stage and fasten it with the stage clips.
  3. Look at the side of the microscope and turn the Adjustment knob until the
    lens is very close to, but not touching, the slide.
  4. Look through the eyepiece and move the Adjustment knob so that the lens
    lifts away from the slide. The image should come into focus. Be careful not
    to drop the lens into the face of the slide, as this may cause damage to the
    lens.
  5. The condenser can be adjusted to increase or decrease light intensity. You
    will usually want the most light possible for clearer viewing, but with low
    power objective lenses you may need to decrease the light.
  6. The slide can be moved around to center the desired image in the field of
    view.
  7. Once you have a clear image with the low-power objective, you may want to
    switch to a higher power one by switching the objective lens. Because they
    are shorter, you don’t need to worry about turning them into the face of the
    slide and causing damage. This is one of the reasons we start with the lower
    ones.
  8. You may need to slightly adjust the focus and centering of the object you
    are viewing. If you try this, and it doesn’t seem to come into focus, then
    drop the lens to very near, but not touching, the slide (look from beside
    the microscope to do this, not through the eye piece) and then look through
    the eyepiece while you slowly raise the lens away from the slide. At some
    point, it will come into focus for you.
  9. When you have finished viewing the slide, lower the Mechanical stage using
    the Adjustment knob, click the low power lens into viewing position (in
    preparation for next time), and remove the slide (by pressing on the ends of
    the clips to release it).

Labeled Parts of a Compound Microscope

Extra Tips and Tricks

  • Here are some more useful tips to consider before using a microscope:
  • When using a microscope with a single eyepiece, it is good practice to keep
    the other eye open to avoid eye strain. Remember that the image is flipped
    upside down and horizontally when viewed through the microscope, so when
    moving it, it will appear to go the opposite way to what you might intend –
    moving the slide up makes the image move down, and moving the slide to the
    right makes the image move left, etc.
  • Prepare your slide with a protective coverslip.
  • Do not touch the middle glass part of the lenses with your fingers, just the
    edges. There is special lens paper for cleaning the lenses. You may want to
    use gloves.
  • Switch off the microscope when it is not in use.
  • Always cover your microscope when not in use.
  • Always use both hands when you carry a microscope, with one hand on the arm
    and the other under the base.

Learn more about microscopes with our early utilitarian guides below :

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