[MH001] What is amateur microscopy?

[MH001] What is amateur microscopy?

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Things that amateur microscopists do

  • Natural observation: Collecting and observing pond life and others.
  • Collecting microscopes: This includes both antique and more modern microscopes.
  • Specimen preparation: The making of specimen slides requires skill and knowledge of sample preparation.
  • Historical slide collecting: Especially during the 19th century, nice microscope slides were made. These are now collector’s items. Antique microscope slides
  • An extension to an existing hobby: Stamp collectors, mineral collectors, etc. might use microscopes to extend their hobby. Also home brewers (yeast observation) and beekeepers (pollen in honey) are known to have used them. Pollen microscopy
  • Amateur microscope making: This is not a very common activity, but there were some people who made their own microscopes, and tried to re-create the first microscopes.
  • Drawing specimens: This is the artistic side of the hobby. Drawing botanical specimens.
  • Artistic photographs: There are even competitions for photomicgrographic art. Nikon’s small world competition

Advantages of microscopy as a hobby

The advantages are, naturally, subjective, but might include:

  • Hobby at home: You do not need to go anywhere. All you need is a desk at home
  • Not much time needed: Turning the microscope on to observe a few specimens can be done quickly and you do not need to go anywhere with your car.
  • Take along: the possibility to take the hobby along as you go traveling (using portable microscopes), if you are interested in natural observation of the country you visit. I have never done that but know of a few people who do this. I would worry too much about the scope becoming damaged.
  • Weather: you are not dependent on good weather
  • Personalization: There are several sub-branches of amateur microscopy: observation, collection of slides, collection of vintage microscopes, photography
  • Easy to start: You can teach the basics of microscopy yourself. The entry barrier into the hobby is not high. The costs are not high and it is not a complicated hobby
  • Specialization: you have the possibility to specialize and to become an expert in a specific branch of light microscopy.
  • Independence: You are not dependent on others to do the hobby. If you want to play a competitive sport, then you have to agree on an appointment to meet each other.