The function of a microscope is to magnify (increase the size of) an image of your specimen. Magnification is produced by both the ocular and objective lenses. The total magnification is determined by the following equation:
As the microscope increases the size of an image of your specimen, it must also maintain the clarity of the detail within that image. This is called the resolving power of the microscope and it depends upon the quality of your objective lenses. The wavelength of visible light limits the resolving power of light microscopes. Magnification above 1000X is not accompanied by sufficient resolving power to distinguish two very close objects as separate objects, as seen in the demonstration below.
The 2 circles are visible as one object.
Continue on to Lab Exercises.