What is recreational and fascinating about using microscopes?

I am talking from personal experience here. For me, microscopy is a “meditative” hobby. It allows me to sit quietly in front of the microscope for an hour or two and gives me the possibility to withdraw into a different world. I observe the paramecia of a water sample, the movement of amoeba across the slide and also the aesthetic arrangement of cells of the cross section of a plant. Sometimes I discover a dead insect on my window and I make a permanent slide of the wing. I like collecting.

Switching on a microscope is faster than switching on a computer. It is therefore easy to fit in an observation session when there is otherwise little time available. I can therefore exercise the hobby on a quite regular basis and without pre-planning. There is no need to allocate large amounts of time in a block.

For me microscopy is a great way to balance out an often stressy day of work. It allows me to focus and concentrate on a single task. For me this is a mental balance to my day at work, where I have to manage multiple events simultaneously. I have to work with a lot of people. Microscopy gives me an opportunity to focus on myself and on a single task. Occasionally I see some interesting structures or nice patterns. I then take a picture of these objects and possibly even order a print for my living room wall. This gives me a feeling of satisfaction.

I do not need expensive equipment either. I like the relative simplicity of the hobby and the possibility to explore a range of unlimited samples. Maybe it is a bad comparison, but microscopy is a little bit like playing chess. The rules of chess are easy to learn, but the game itself can unfold to be highly complex. Likewise, microscopes are relatively easy to learn how to operate, but the possibilities for exploration and for discovery are endless.

Potato starch grains in bright field.
Potato starch grains in bright field.