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What is a Compound Microscope?

A compound microscope is an instrument that is used to view magnified images of small objects on a glass slide. It can achieve higher levels of magnification than stereo or other low power microscopes and reduce chromatic aberration. It achieves this through the use of two or more lenses in the objective and the eyepiece.

The objective lens or objectives located on the nosepiece has a short focal length and is close to the target object where it collects light and focuses the image of the object inside the microscope. The second lens, in the eyepiece, has a longer focal length and further enlarges the image.

The characteristics of a compound microscope are:

  • Two or more convex lenses
  • Typical magnification range between 40x and 1000x
  • One objective is used at a time
  • Two-dimensional images
  • Available in monocular, binocular and trinocular configurations

Parts of a compound microscope: (varies depending on configuration)

  • Eyepiece (ocular) with or without Pointer
  • Bodytube
  • Monocular or Binocular Head
  • Arm
  • Nosepiece
  • Base
  • Objective lenses
  • Specimen or slide
  • Stage or Platform
  • Stage clips or mechanical stage
  • Aperture – Disc or Iris Diaphragm
  • Abbe Condenser
  • Coarse and fine adjustment controls
  • Stage height adjustment
  • Mirror
  • Illumination
  • Bottom Lens or Field Diaphragm