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Hello from Houston, Texas!

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 4:09 am
by TieDyeAstronomer
Hello everybody,

My name is Lauren Herrington, and I'm a newbie to the microscopic world! (But not quite to this forum: I've already posted in the "My Microscope" forum... thanks for all the welcoming replies!! I figured I should make a post in the actual designated "Introductions" forum, so here goes...)

My first experience looking through a microscope came way back in February 2015, and I had a lot of fun sticking random items under there to examine. I had a collection of samples: mostly plants and household items, with a dead honeybee, too. The microscopes eventually got put onto a shelf, and I got heavily into astronomy for a couple of years.

I pulled out the microscopes again this summer and have been having a blast reacquainting myself with the micro-world! I've learned a lot about optics while doing astronomy, and I feel like that's given me a leg up while learning about microscopes themselves. It's also given me the ability to see all the ways I could be improving my setup. :)

I currently use a nice old Olympus KHC microscope which does not have a condenser. (Don't worry, I'm not planning on letting it stay that way!) Even without a condenser, it's pretty cool what can be seen! I currently use aluminum foil circles placed on top of the illuminator's lens, to give "darkfield" and circular oblique illuminations. More recently, I've been able to set up rudimentary polarization using two 1.25" glass moon filters meant for use with telescopes, one on top of the illuminator and one on top of the slide. And I designed and lasercut my own cellphone-camera-to-eyepiece adapter for the Olympus KHC! I might make a thread about that in a bit.

I'm in the Houston area, and from looking at the user location tags it looks like there's a couple other members around these parts! I don't suppose there's a microscopy club down here like there are astronomy clubs? I saw a picture somewhere on this forum of a field day, where a microscopy club took out some microscopes and a tent to a nature preserve, and shared the views with passers-by. That sounds like my kind of event!! :) I haven't been able to find anything nearby on Google, though. If any of y'all know of a microscopy meetup here in south Texas, please do let me know!

I'll close with this: Throughout my re-discovery of microscopy, it keeps striking me that there's really one big difference between visual astronomy and visual microscopy. Visual astronomy is 90% "coooool", with moments of profound depth and a sense of cosmic scale. Visual microscopy is 90% "coooool", with moments of profound disgust and a sense of never wanting to see that ever again, by god, never again.

(P.S.: I sign all my astronomy posts with "Clear Skies!", but I feel like that doesn't quite apply here-- how about...)

Clean Optics?

Re: Hello from Houston, Texas!

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:11 am
by MicroBob
TieDyeAstronomer wrote:Visual microscopy is 90% "coooool", with moments of profound disgust and a sense of never wanting to see that ever again, by god, never again.

Hi Lauren,

it is a very good idea to look for contact to other microscopists. This can be a way to get help and new ideas what to observe.
Here in Germany we have a bit more than 10 microscopy groups. I'm member of the MIKRO Hamburg, established in 1911 and still going strong.
The way these groups work is very different, different background, size, different ways to hold the meetings, different equipment. People who don't have access to a bigger group meet in smaller numbers, offer courses for children, look for contact to a university or nature organisation, travel to microscopy weekends and so on. One member of our group has a wife who sells stuff on markets and he puts up a small microscopy stand there.
It isn't necessarily a problem to be a beginner when trying to attract new people to the hobby. Too much experience can often build up a barrier to the newbies.

If you dont have a group in Houston, you might have a bigger group somewhere that covers a wider area where the Houston microscopists can be found.

And you can always lure away your fellow astronomers to the right end of the free working distance scale! No mosquitos, no rain, never too hot or cold, if you don't like the sky you just take an other one - paradise conditions! :lol:


Re: Hello from Houston, Texas!

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:31 am
by Dave S
Hi Lauren, and welcome.

I'm a relative newcomer to microscopy, but a lifelong photographer, and at one time, 12 years as an astro-imager.

Re: Hello from Houston, Texas!

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:02 pm
by Crater Eddie
Welcome to the group!
For some reason microscopy clubs aren't as numerous in the US as in other countries.

Re: Hello from Houston, Texas!

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:05 pm
by zzffnn
Welcome from near Houston, Lauren! Friendswood 77546, to be precise.

I and Kurt have been trying to meet in person, but have not gotten a chance (I blame Kurt for pretending to be always busy). Now we are both almost ready, but I am relocating to Boston in a few days :(

We talked about set up a field microscope or two at a local park, but since we have not managed to meet ourselves, that event has not occurred.

I helped a local microscopist Adam set up his polarization imaging rig (for chemical crystals) a month ago. But he has not posted much yet.

Kurt is an astronomer too. But don't we have terrible light pollution in Houston to see remote stars (all you can see are our neighbor planets)?

Too bad I am moving away, or I can gift you some star sand and insect samples to view under microscope.

Many subjects do not look that disgusting, once you magnify them a lot under microscope. I would admit I don't like flies or worms though.

Re: Hello from Houston, Texas!

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:36 am
by wstenberg
Hello from Dallas and Welcome,

When you all get ready for the Houston get-together, let me know. I do get down there from time to time.
Or if you get up to Dallas, stop in and visit.