What to look at under a microscope

bacteria under a microscope

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Microscopy is the gateway to a world unseen by the human eye. Life and matter are magnified at the minuscule scale, revealing intricate details. We have used this tool to explore everything from cells to crystals in biology, medicine, and materials science. 

The study of microscopy gives us a greater understanding of the world by revealing microscopic mysteries. In this blog, we will explore fascinating things that can be seen under a microscope and provide tips on beginning your journey of discovery. A discovery awaits us! 

look at under a microscope

Look at Under a Microscope

Living Organisms: The most prominent subjects for microscopic exploration are biological specimens. From the spiraling strands of DNA to the complex structure of plant and animal cells, microscopes allow us to understand the beautiful complexity of life. 

Body Fluids: Blood, saliva, urine – these body fluids are like biographical books of our health. They contain cells, hormones, and other substances that provide critical insights into our well-being and potential illnesses. 

Minerals and Crystals: When observed under a microscope, seemingly dull minerals and crystals transform into stunning geometric masterpieces. The intricate structure of their molecules provides valuable information about material science and geology. 

Synthetic Materials: Observing polymers under a microscope reveals fascinating patterns and structures, revealing their physical characteristics. 

Personal Items: Something as ordinary as a strand of hair becomes a subject of fascination under a microscope, showing details like the arrangement of scales on the shaft. Similarly, a thread from your cotton shirt reveals the individual fibers twisted together to form the yarn. 

Household Dust: A pinch of dust under a microscope unveils a diverse mix of particles – from human skin cells to fabric fibers, offering a snapshot of the environment it came from. 

Everyday Objects: What does the ink on a newspaper look like up close? Can you imagine if a coin had grooves? Microscopically, these everyday objects reveal hidden details that would otherwise be invisible.

bacteria under a microscope

Cells under a microscope

For any cell preparation, you will need clean microscope slides, cover slips, a microscope, and, depending on the type of cell, certain additional materials. 

Plant Cells: One of the most commonly used specimens for viewing plant cells is an onion skin due to its transparent cell walls. Peel a thin layer from an onion, place it on a slide, add a drop of iodine to enhance contrast, and gently place a cover slip over it. 

Human Cheek Cells: The cells can be examined by gently scraping the inside of your cheek with a clean toothpick, smearing it on a slide, letting it air dry, adding methylene blue stain to highlight the cells, and then covering it with a cover slip. 

Blood Cells: Blood samples must be collected by a healthcare professional. They create a blood smear once they place a small drop of blood onto a slide. The smear is left to air dry, stained using a special blood stain, and then covered with a cover slip. 

Viewing Prepared Slides 

The microscope stage should be securely mounted with the prepared slide. If you want the best resolution, start at the lowest magnification setting and slowly increase it. Be sure to use the focusing knob to see the cells. 

Observation Tips 

  • Plant Cells: The cells have a thick cell wall, a large vacuole, and green chloroplasts. Look at the nucleus of the cells and observe the arrangement of the cells. 
  • Cheek Cells: It should be possible to see the cell membrane in these cells since they lack a cell wall and chloroplasts. Each cell has a round nucleus. 
  • Blood Cells: The most significant blood cells have noticeable nuclei. In contrast, white blood cells lack nuclei but are round, and small platelets lack nuclei.
blood cell under a microscope

Microorganisms under a microscope

Collection: To begin, you will need to gather your samples. When scooping up pond water, keep some sediment along with the water. This is where most microorganisms reside. Mix a small amount of yogurt with sterile water to create a manageable concentration of bacteria. 

Creating a Clean Slate: The importance of cleanliness cannot be overstated. It is important to wash your hands and sterilize your instruments, such as microscopes, slides, and cover slips. In this way, your microscopic party will be protected from unwanted guests. 

Slide Preparation: Put a drop of the sample on the slide now. A stain like methylene blue can make investigating yogurt bacteria easier to see. Finally, gently place a cover slip over it. 

Microscope: Slowly increase the magnification from the lowest magnification. Focus the camera until you can see your microscopic friends. 

Identification: A bacterium consists of a simple cell that is usually shaped like a rod or spherical. Several types of protozoa exhibit unique movement, including Paramecium and Amoeba. The chlorophyll in algae makes them green and has a variety of shapes. 

Textile Fibers under a microscope

Seeing Fibers: Fabric is made up of tiny threads woven under a microscope. The fibers in these pictures are textile fibers. 

Natural vs Man-Made: Fibers can be biological (like cotton, wool, or silk) or artificial (like polyester or nylon). 

Microscopic Differences: Under the microscope, each fiber type appears differently. The fibers of cotton look like twisted ribbons. Wool fibers have a scaly and crimped texture. Smooth and round are the characteristics of silk fibers. Polyester fibers have a smoothness and a shine. There is a consistent thickness and straightness to nylon fibers.

cotton fiber under a microscope

Insect Parts under a microscope

Step 1 Collecting 

First, we need to collect the insect part. Be gentle and careful. In case of need, seek assistance from an adult. An ant’s antenna or a fly’s wing can be used. 

Step 2 Preparing 

Next, we prepare the insect part for viewing. A slide is a tiny glass plate used for this purpose. We might need a drop of water if the part is slight, such as a fly’s wing. A cover slip is then placed on top. 

Step 3 Viewing 

Having examined the insect part under a microscope, we’re ready to explore the rest of the insect. Start with a low magnification and gradually increase until the part can be seen. 


Materials Needed 

  • Microscope: A compound microscope is suitable for this task. 
  • Glass Slides and Cover: Mounting slips for hair samples. 
  • Tweezers: For handling the hair sample. 
  • Isopropyl Alcohol: To clean the hair sample. 
  • Explicit Mounting: The hair is adhered to the slide using this media. 

Preparing the Hair Sample 

  • Isolation: Use the tweezers to carefully pluck a hair sample, ensuring, if possible, that the root is attached. 
  • Cleaning: To clean the hair, just put it in rubbing alcohol and let it dry in the air.
  • Mounting: An explicit mounting media drop should be placed on a glass slide. Place a cover slip gently on top of the hair and gently lay the hair in the press. 

Observing the Hair Sample 

Slides should be placed on microscope stages. Adjust the focus until you see hair at the lowest magnification setting. Gradually increasing the magnification will enable you to examine the image more closely. Different lighting conditions will be needed depending on your microscope. The intensity can be adjusted to medium if necessary. 

What to Look For 

When examining hair under a microscope, look for these features 

  • Cuticle: This is the very outer layer of the hair. It may look like tiny overlapping scales. 
  • Cortex: This middle layer contains pigment, which gives hair its color. You may also see structures known as cortical fusil and ovoid bodies. 
  • Medulla: This is the deepest layer inside the hair shaft. Its appearance can vary between different hairs and species.
plant cell under a microscope

How to Look at Objects Under a Microscope

Importance of Microscopes in Scientific Research 

Microscopes are indispensable tools in scientific research. They allow us to observe objects that are too small for the naked eye, such as cells, microorganisms, and the structures of organic and inorganic materials. Medicine, biology, geology, and materials science have all benefited from the ability to scrutinize the microscopic world. 

Types of Microscopes 

  • Compound Microscope: Labs and schools commonly use this type. Multiple lenses provide high magnification. 
  • Stereo Microscope: This microscope provides a 3-dimensional view of the specimen, also called a dissecting microscope. You can use it for dissection or precision work. 
  • Electron Microscope: Electron beams are used instead of light to view samples. Although they offer much higher magnification and resolution, they are complex and expensive. 

Preparing Your Microscope 

Ensure the slide is at its lowest position and the most insufficient power objective lens is placed on the stage. Light sources should be adjusted. In many microscopes, a diaphragm or wheel can change the amount of light emitted under the stage.

bacteria under a microscope

Preparing Microscope Slides 

  • Cells (like onion cells): A thin layer of onion should be peeled, placed on a slide, stained with iodine, and covered with a cover slip. 
  • Microorganisms (like pond water): Drop directly on the slide and cover. 
  • Organic Inorganic Material: Thin slices can be made using a microtome (for soft materials) or a diamond saw (for hard materials like rocks). 

Focusing on Your Specimen 

Looking from the side (not through the eyepiece), move the stage up as close to the objective lens as possible without touching. Peer through the eyepiece and gently turn the coarse focus knob to lower the stage until the specimen becomes clear. Sharpness can be achieved with the fine focus knob. Your specimen’s focal point is where you get the most precise image.

what to look at under a microscope

Adjusting the Magnification 

Widen your field of view by starting with the lowest power objective lens. Using higher-power lenses is possible after you have focused your specimen. When changing objectives, carefully rotate the nosepiece (never force it). The fine focus may need to be adjusted afterward. 

For additional magnification, some microscopes have adjustable eyepieces or zoom features. Ensure you clean your lenses every time you use your microscope and slides. You’ll have a great time exploring! 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.