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Study Notes: Parts of a Microscope

Microscopy is an essential skill in Biology as it enables us to:

  • observe objects too small to be seen with the unaided eye
  • resolve structural details of very small objects.

Specimens viewed with the microscope are normally illuminated with transmitted light. This means that the light passes through the specimen to the eye. The specimen must therefore be very thin.

An important part of all biological procedures is the correct use of a standard compound microscope. In order to get the best image possible from different types of microscopes, it is crucial that the light path be set up properly.

The prepared slide is placed on the stage of the microscope for examination. The principal parts of a typical microscope are shown here. Use your mouse to rollover the names of the parts, for information about each part. Skip flash movie

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Light path through a microscope
Shown in this cutaway diagram of a popular teaching microscope are the internal components and light path.

Image of the light path through an optical microscope

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