Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WYSIWYG vs What You See Depends on your Eyepiece

Microscopes, telescopes, and binoculars have lenses that enhance the capabilities of our eyes. Have you thought about the lenses and the physics of light enabling the microscopy and "macroscopy"?

When using a microscope, what do the lenses do?
When using a telescope, what do the lenses do? And for a set of binoculars, what do the lenses do? Think about these questions and jot down your ideas before continuing.

What do you already know about the eye? Eyepieces?

The title, WYSIWYG---What you see is what you get (Borrowed from computer jargon)---
in fact is:
What you see does depend on the quality of your eyepiece.

Compare what you can see in a child's microscope with the photos taken from light microscopes found in a children's or college biology text book.
As a child, I wondered why I couldn't get my microscope focused like that. As a college teacher, I discovered that many students, without them knowing of my own experience, had similar experiences comparing what they saw as children with what the textbook manufacturers had printed ("as possible".) The photographers were using different lenses on their microscopes than those available on most children's--- or, even first-year college students' microscopes.

Whereas that difference, between what my microscope showed me and what the text pictures presented, led me to continue learning about microscopes, it led others to total frustration that had to be undone when they reached their "required" college science course(s). Because of this realization and because of a recent experience at Stellafane using each telescope's own lens and then using a new ocular lens from Televue on both home-made (by others) telescopes and fancy purchased telescopes, too, I decided to include a post on eyepieces. The quality of the eyepiece on any scope is a major determining factor in what you see.

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