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 Choosing the Right Microscope

Helicotyenchus nemotode with distinctive spiral shape at 100x.
An instrument of exploration for the inquiring child or serious adult hobbyist.

In 1675 a Dutch merchant looked through a small handheld lens of his own making and discovered living creatures in rainwater which had stood for a few days in a new pot. Without fully comprehending the importance of what he had seen, Anton van Leeuwenhoek had invented the microscope.

Today, a quality introductory microscope, such as the Meade Model 9200, would astonish van Leeuwenhoek with the incredible detail that can be observed. Examine the crystalline structure of ordinary table salt at 40x or 100x; study features of a leaf's cell structure at 100x or 400x; or follow in van Leeuwenhoek's path and observe a fascinating array of animal life-forms in a simple drop of pond water. Applications of the Meade biological microscopes presented here are almost as limitless as your imagination.

All biological microscopes share these basic features and components:

  • The Stage: Specimens (i.e., objects to be observed) placed on a glass slide and ready for observing are positioned on the microscope's stage, a smooth, flat surface used to hold the glass slide. On most microscopes the specimen glass remains fixed while the microscope's objective lens and eyepiece move as a unit up or down to focus the image.

  • Objective Lenses: A microscope's objective lens forms the image that is observed with the eyepiece. Different objective lens designs permit different magnifying powers. Each Meade microscope includes three objective lenses mounted on a rotating turret for ease in switching powers.

  • Eyepiece: The ocular, or eyepiece, consists of a series of lenses mounted in a barrel and placed in the eyepiece sleeve at the upper end of the microscope. Eyepieces of varying powers work with objective lenses of varying powers to yield a range of microscope magnifications.


    Diatom at 40x. This salt water organism has a beautiful symetrical shape.


    Leaf surface at 40x.


    Fresh water diatom at 400x displays it's starshaped structure.

  • Magnification: The effective magnification of a microscope is determined by multiplying the eyepiece power by the objective lens power. Thus a 40x objective lens used with a 10x eyepiece presents an effective magnification of 400x to the observer. Lower magnifying powers allow for brighter, sharper images combined with a wide field of view; higher powers, often useful in specific observing situations, present larger but dimmer images with narrower fields of view. When observing a specimen, always begin at lower powers, progressively increasing to higher magnifications.

  • Focusing: All Meade microscope models include a focusing control for quick focusing of the image. More advanced Meade Models 9400, and 9600 include both coarse and fine focusing controls; the fine focus is particularly advantageous in high-power applications.

  • Light Source: Used to illuminate the specimen, Meade Models 9200 and 9400 include adjustable mirrors to reflect an external light source into the microscope's specimen observing area; Models 9460 and 9600 utilize built-in light sources to provide direct and intense object illumination at high powers.

  • Condensing Lens: All Meade microscope models include a sub-stage condensing lens that concentrates light on to the specimen. A rotary variable-aperture diaphragm permits varying illumination intensities. Models 9460 and 9600 include more sophisticated Abbe-type condensing lens systems and built-in color filter holders.

  • Prepared Slide Set: Each Meade microscope model is packed with a complimentary set of five ready-to observe prepared animal and vegetable slide specimens, plus five blank glass slides for your own specimens.

  • Meade #904 Slide Set: Available from your Meade dealer at modest cost, The optional Meade #904 Slide Set includes 25 prepared slides of fascinating biological subjects, all of which are different from the slides included with the complimentary slide set, above.

Meade biological microscopes are manufactured to discriminating Meade optical and mechanical standards. Objective and eyepiece lenses are of optical glass, exclusively, providing images far sharper and higher in resolution than can be obtained with less expensive plastic lenses. Mechanical systems, including rotating turret assemblies, rack-and-pinion focusing mechanisms, and lens mountings are of machined brass and steel to permit years of quality performance—performance backed by the world's leading name in commercial optics, Meade Instruments.


Pollen tetrads of Lilium plant, 100x.

Leaf stomata at 100k.

Salt crystals at 40x.

Ectocarpus algae at 100x.

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