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How To: Use Your Microscope in 7 Steps

How To: Use Your Microscope in 7 Steps

Science is a wonderful thing, and with access to all the top-of-the-range laboratory equipment, we can improve our knowledge about the world’s atomic structures. One piece of equipment that can help us do this is the microscope with which you can zoom in on the minuscule structures of almost anything! But before you begin your research, here are a few tips you can follow to make sure you get the best out of your microscope and your slides.


  1. Wash your hands. Your skin produces natural oils and can collect dirt that you might not be able to see. Oil and grease can be difficult to clean off certain surfaces, so having squeaky clean hands to start with will prevent you from making dirty finger marks on your slides. This can be especially annoying if you’ve already mounted your slide on the microscope’s stage because then you might have to start again!


  1. Have a lint-free cloth to hand. Not only might there be dirt on your surface, but dust particles in the air can also settle on your slides and on your microscope’s lens which could blur and obstruct your vision of the components on the slide.


  1. Always handle the microscope as carefully as possible – pick it up with both hands and not with one clasped on the arm as it might not be able to carry the weight of the rest of the microscope. Use one hand on the arm and the other to support the bottom.


  1. Place your microscope on a clean and uncluttered flat surface. A dirty surface could transfer onto your microscope or your slides and potentially affect your results.

  1. It is advised to use prepared slides when you first start using your microscope so that you can get used to mounting your slides properly. This way you get to know how to put them in and out of the slides correctly; it’s important not to force your slides under the two-stage clips or else you might damage your work. After you’ve got the hang of it then you can start to prepare your own slides.


  1. Now you can start to adjust your illuminator and diaphragm to give your specimen the right amount of light. By turning the focus knob your lens will move down toward your slide – from here you can choose a position that will give you the clearest image, but be careful not to let the lens touch your slide!


  1. When you’re finished with your microscope remember to keep it covered so that you prevent it from gathering dust which can be hard to clean!