Subject Advice


My background

Welcome to this online introduction to microscopy. I have had a lifelong interest in all things microscopic and, as a former science teacher and advisor in health education, my knowledge and love of the subject has gradually developed over the years. I am currently a member of several amateur microscope societies including the Royal Microscopical Society and the Quekett Microscopical Club. As a u3a member I also lead our local Northampton u3a microscope users’ group which has been thriving now for over ten years. 

Why Microscopy?

Looking through a microscope is like going on a voyage of discovery – you never quite know what you’re going to see.  The microcosmos is all around us and a whole “new world” that most people are totally unaware of.

Starting out

To begin, one important point I would emphasise to anyone interested in starting out in microscopy, or forming a u3a group, is that you don’t need expensive or complicated equipment to delve into this fascinating and absorbing hobby!  Microscopes come in all shapes and sizes beginning with the very simple, single-lens magnifier, all the way up to expensive laboratory equipment. It is also possible to make your own microscope !

For those starting out, a few, cheaply- bought hand lenses can be utilised quite effectively both to observe and photograph minute objects of interest, and these can range from virtually anything such as leaves, flowers, paper and textile fibres to drops of pond water, small insects, sand, rock samples and so forth.

Also worth mentioning is that lack of previous experience or knowledge is not important, just enthusiasm and a curiosity to explore the micro-world in all its hidden beauties. 

Buying Equipment 

Obtaining microscopes, whether low-power stereos or compound monocular types, can be somewhat of a minefield – for example, there are plenty of new and used equipment available on eBay- some at bargain prices if you know what to look out for, but my recommendation in the first instance would be to seek out the advice and help of a local club, natural history society or bee keeper.

Advice and Help 

I can assist here in offering help and advice in both how to set up a group and also what equipment to purchase, whether new or second-hand. It’s worth mentioning that a good, second-hand microscope can be purchased for around £50-£70 and bought with funds obtained from your local u3a committee. 

Further Information 

If you would like more information or help, please do contact me using my email. If not too far from Northampton, I would be more than happy to visit your group and assist in the startup process.

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