Microscope Users

Leader: Mike Gibson Tel: 01604 714513
Deputy: Charles Bond Tel: 01604 409251

Monthly meetings on first Friday of the month 10am until 12.00;
Town centre venue: at Northamptonshire Natural History Society, Castilian Terrace, Northampton (just off St Giles Street);


Friday, 4th JanuaryAspects of Forensic ScienceHair, Fur & Fabrics under the Microscope.
Friday, 1st FebruaryGrowing Crystals & how to photograph them.We will use our microscopes today to observe how crystals form and grow and see the wonderful bi-refringent effects of using polarized light. This is a meeting not to be missed!
Friday, 1st MarchUsing Oil Immersion Lenses with your Microscope.This is an opportunity to give your microscope a real work-out with magnifications in excess of x1000 ! We will be examining a range of prepared slides including diatoms, bacteria in yoghurt and the pygidium of a flea!
Friday 5th AprilEaster under the Microscope (Members’ contributions & ideas welcome).Another chance for members to make their own contributions. Amongst other things we will be looking into embryology and the development of a hen’s egg.
Friday 3rd May‘On Shoulders of Giants’ Famous people associated with the microscope. (Members’ choices & short presentations welcomed).We include here Rosalind Franklin, Louis Pasteur, Robert Hooke, Anthony van Leuwenhoek, Robert Koch and anyone else you think deserves our recognition and attention.
Friday 7th JunePlants from the Garden (A chance to examine roots, stems leaves, flowers & seedsBring your own samples). We will be making simple sections and staining techniques to make our own temporary mounts to look with the microscope.
Friday, 5th JulyPondlife 1Find out what’s lurking in your pond or birdbath ! Bring your own samples if you can.
Friday, 2nd AugustPondlife 2Another chance to discover what’s in your pond with the aid of a microscope.
Friday, 6th SeptemberThe Riddle of the Sands.Today we have an opportunity to look at some of the samples from the Society’s world-wide collections and also make our own slides to take home.
Friday, 4th OctoberFish Scales.A practical session with an opportunity to make your own slides & add to your collection.
Friday, 1st NovemberLooking at FungiBring your own micro- and macro-samples to look at under the microscope. A good starting point is the green mould often found growing on stale bread.
Friday, 6th DecemberFamous Microscopes – Past & Present (Members’ contributions welcomed).A chance to delve into the history of the microscope and also try out some early microscopes from the society’s collection.


  • Microscopes and equipment provided;
  • Beginners welcome - no previous experience needed;

For anyone who may be wondering what this group is all about, let me explain………

First of all, it is a beginners group, therefore no experience or equipment is necessary to join in. The idea is to interest and maybe encourage people to learn, have fun, and get involved in a fascinating new hobby.

On the way, we’ll come across different types of microscope, from the very simple to the complex, and learn about how they are used. There will be plenty of opportunities to try out different microscopes and even make our own! Aspects of the history of microscopy will be covered and we’ll delve into the fascinating world of the Victorian slide makers.

One of the key aspects of our work will be learning how to set up and use microscopes. This will also include practical activities of looking at prepared microscope slides, making our own slides and observing a range of materials and specimens from fur and fibres through to rocks, crystals, plants, pond life and many other living things. And of course, for anyone interested in purchasing their own microscope, there will plenty of advice and help on hand. (Only recently, one of our U3A members in the photography group managed to purchase a fine second-hand quality instrument for a mere £15.)

To find out more, or to join the group, please phone the Leader or send an email by clicking the link on the right.


See the Sources June 2016 article by Mike Gibson by clicking this link.

Mike Gibson

NEW MEMBERS ALWAYS WELCOME! Remember, you don’t need to have your own microscope to join as there are ones for you to use. We even have our very own “Swift microscope kit” for members who would like to borrow a microscope for home use on a month’s loan.

For further details contact me, Mike Gibson by email by clicking the link on the right or phone me or Charles Bond.

Mike Gibson, Group Co-ordinator


Do you want to learn more about microscopy? The Open University have a short Introduction to microscopy course, which is part of their Open Learning programme. This free course can be accessed by clicking the link above

You may also be interested in the following OU course: An introduction to minerals and rocks under the microscope

Experience the study of minerals using a polarising microscope. While the study of minerals can involve electron or ion beam chemical analysis, the polarising microscope remains the prime tool for the study of rock thin sections and is the foundation of learning to recognise, characterise and identify rocks.
After studying this unit, you should be able to:

  • understand the facts, concepts, principles, theories, classification systems and language associated with minerals and rocks
  • use the essential terms, concepts and strategies of mineralogy
  • apply knowledge and understanding of the study of rock thin sections using a polarising microscope
  • work with and recognise a variety of minerals and microtextures in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks
  • make systematic descriptions and identifications of minerals in rocks, observing them using images of thin sections viewed under a polarising microscope, and deduce how and in what environments the minerals and rocks were formed.

Click on this An introduction to minerals and rocks link to access the OU course which is an Intermediate level one taking 8 hours

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.