What is a compound microscope?


A compound microscope is the simplest type of microscope that we usually encounter and use in our school laboratories. It is used for magnifying smaller objects and features. It can provide a total magnification of up to 1000x (or 1000 times). The compound microscope has two lenses: an eyepiece and objective. The eyepiece is the lens through which we look at the object and is close to our eyes (and hence the name). It can have a magnification of up to 10x. There can be one or two eyepiece lenses. The objective is the lens close to the object and can have a magnification of up to 100x. The most commonly used objective lenses have magnifications of 10x, 20x, 40x, 60x and 100x, thus providing us with the flexibility of viewing the sample at increasingly higher magnifications. There is a light source at the base of the compound microscope. This is the reason why such microscopes are also known as compound light microscopes.

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