Learn How to Use a Scientific Microscope: 10 Easy Steps

Congratulations! You are now holding a key piece for your laboratory. Your new scientific microscope is a precise instrument that has been thoroughly inspected to ensure that it arrives in good working order. It's made for years of worry-free and easy use.

Learning how to use a microscope is very easy! You'll be a pro in no time with a bit of accuracy and practice. As you progress from larger to smaller, the idea is to make minor, deliberate motions. 

While different techniques and applications in microscopy have a wide range of complexity and subtleties, the basic approach for using a microscope is pretty much the same. We will go over each of these stages in greater detail below:

1. Picking the Right Slide: A prepared slide that came with your scientific microscope is your best choice when using a microscope for the first time. Choose a slide wherein you can view the Specimen clearly with your naked eye.
 
This will also help you view the Specimen better under the microscope. You can always build your own slides later once you've looked at the provided slide. 
 
2. Making Your Own Slide: if there's no prepared slide available, you can easily make one. Simply get a slide and wet it with a drop of water. Cut a tiny section of hair (about 5mm in length), place it in the drop of water then place a cover glass above it. They shouldn't be too close together. 
 
If there is an excess of water coming out, use tissue paper to clean it up. For the time being, don't be concerned if there are any air bubbles. Just make sure the cover glass tightly adheres to the slide. Most importantly, the cover glass should not float in the water (use a tissue to remove excess water).
 
3. Rotate the Nosepiece: Scanning a slide at a low power level is strongly advised since you have a larger field of view. You can obtain a zoomed out picture of the specimen with the lowest power objective (4x for 40x magnification). Once you've selected your area of interest, you may switch to the higher power objectives later.
 
4. Set it to the Lowest Stage: Make sure that the stage is set to the lowest position. To decrease the stage, move the coarse adjustment knob counterclockwise until the lowest level is reached. Then you can insert the slide with no hassle.
 
5. Inserting the Specimen Slide: After preparing the slide and you've set your scientific microscope to the lowest stage, you're now ready to insert the slide. The label must be placed on the top. Make sure the slide is correctly centred; it should be right above the hole on the stage. 
 
6. Raise the Stage: Turn the focus knob of your scientific microscope so the stage goes higher while looking at the objective lens and the stage from the side. Move it up as far as it will go without causing the goal to come into contact with the objective. If you're still on 4x, it will not crash into the objective as it won't be able to go higher.
 
7. Set the Condenser: Raise the condenser but make sure that the condenser lens is just below the stage aperture. You can use the condenser rack adjustment knob to raise or lower the condenser. 
 
8. Closing the Diaphragm: On the condenser, a lever may be adjusted left and right. It opens and closes the diaphragm rather than raising and lowering the condenser. Adjust the lever till the picture is as dark as it can be. You'll get the best contrast and depth of field this way. Increase the light if it is too dim.
 
9. Focusing on the Specimen: begin by looking through the eyepiece(s) of your scientific microscope. Start with the lowest power objective together with the stage at the lowest; you should be able to identify the entire specimen or at least a significant piece of it. To get the region of interest into the centre of the field of vision, use the X-Y translational knobs.
 
10. Increase the Magnification: The nosepiece should then be rotated to the next higher power objective (10x). When the objective is in position, you will hear a click. The specimen is now somewhat out of focus. Use either the fine adjustment knob to keep the specimen in focus instead of the coarse adjustment knob to avoid crashing the objective into the slide.

Finally, you can experiment with the condenser aperture diaphragm of your scientific microscope by closing and opening it to achieve the image you want. Some specimens will need to have the condenser closed more, and some won't; this will depend on the contrast of your specimen. 


Remember to turn the lens to the lowest magnification, remove your slide, and elevate the turret to the highest position after you're finished with your scientific microscope. Do not forget to clean the lenses and stage before storing them.

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