July 31, 1999

New Microscopy Diary Pages

by Thomas Aungst

I must admit that when I sit down at a microscope that a lot of time can pass by very quickly. Specimen after specimen passes under the lens and I am busy rendering preliminary drawings of each image. Then suddenly I am startled by my wife informing me that my food is getting cold. "Oh, yes, I am ready for lunch." And she informs me that lunch went uneaten hours ago. I look out the window and I see that the sun has already set.

I've just got a new microscope and I have been getting use to it; determining what the field of view is at each of its four power settings; 9.5mm at 20X, 7mm at 30X, 5mm at 40X and 3.5mm at 60X. I find that this stereo microscope, although not of high power, opens an entirely new view of the world of the extremely small. The first illustration shows some of the numerous desmids that were found in the first half hour of searching. There were also ten hydra, green with chlorophyll, and many testate amoeba, (Difflugia, two types shown). Ciliates and rotifers were present in great numbers and varied species.

It is a real task to assign the proper name to each specimen that I encounter. Rotifers are extremely varied and I can never get the size of the specimen to match what the books indicate.
The following image is a good example of this problem. The zooids were a good 500 microns in length and I can find no listing for the Peritricha being that large.

Click thumbnail to zoom in

  If you really want to have some fun playing "What Is It?" try identifying some of the many aquatic annelids.

Click thumbnail to zoom in

In all I have spent the better part of four days now looking through this one sample of pond water and I have not really begun to catalog its residents.

A TIP; need a cover for viewing a live specimen in a Syracuse watch glass? Try a 'sky' filter that is used on cameras to protect the main lens. Used ones are very cheap. I have picked them up for as little as 25 cents in the USA.

Comments to the author Thomas Aungst are welcomed.





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