Magnifying Glasses and Microscopes can allow us to see details in the world around us that are otherwise invisible.  Kids will happily spend hours outdoors looking at bugs and plants if they are given a simple magnifying glass — all summer long. 

If you decide to purchase a Magnifying Glass or a Microscope, remember: 

·        Looking through a poor quality lens is tiring.

·        Higher power limits the field of view.

·        Higher power magnifies any distortions.

·        Optical coatings help a lot. 

·        Achromatic (Good control of colour distortion.)

·        Apochromatic (Best control of colour distortion.)

·        Aspherical (Minimal shape distortion.)

For best price/performance, I like a 7X Hastings Triplet Hand Loupe.  It fits in any pocket, and provides an easy view in use.  (It makes a great gift, too.)

May, 2016:  I recently acquired an Omax Stereo Microscope, 10x/30x with Dual LED, for $310 delivered, taxes in.  Surprisingly good quality for the price. Image is sharp right to the edge. Colour is good, but not as vivid as my old Zeiss, which was optically incredible. At 1/10 or less than the price of any Zeiss, and for as much as I will use it, this is still outstanding performance. Compared with Birding Binoculars in a comparable price range, this is notably superior performance optically. I chose the relatively low fixed magnification rather than a zoom on the principles of optical performance: Magnification X Complexity X Distortion = Magnified Complex Distortions. However, given the quality here I am wondering if the 6.7x-45x zoom would perform comparably. If so, I would have been willing to pay the higher price for that (just slightly over double the price of this). That said, the dual LED system was persuasive for my decision making, and I am well pleased with the performance of these lights also. Shipping through Amazon was prompt and arrived unmarked from transit. Colour me: Very Satisfied.

Following are links relating to Microscopes and things that are very small:  

A Home-Made Microscope (Popular Science, 1875)

Analytical Instruments and Services (Geologynet)

Atomic Force Microscope Images (American Physical Society)

Build a Microscope (Nexus)

Build Your Own Microscope (Science in School)

Commercial Suppliers (Microscopy New Zealand)

Glass-Sphere Microscope (Fun Science Gallery)

History of the Microscope

How to Make a Digital Microscope for $15 (New Scientist)

Information and Resources on Microscopy (American Society for Cell Biology)

Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies (Mississippi State U)

Invigorating Science (Edutopia)

It’s a Small World (P. Robson)

K – 12 Educational Sites (Cellular Imaging Facility Core, U Arizona)

Life Under the Microscope (Promethean Planet)

Magnifiers & Vision Aids (Canadian National Institute for the Blind)

Make a Microscope Challenge (Open University) 

Make Your Own Leeuwenhoek Microscope

Making a Van Leeuwenhoek Microscope Lens

Making Digital Camera Microscope Adapters (Richard J Kinch)

Microscope Activities (National Science Teachers Association)

Microscope Activity Kit (Royal Microscopical Society)

Microscope Historical Society

Microscope Manufacturers (Scientific Bazaar)

Microscope on the Go (Optical Society)

Microscopes for Schools (M4S)

Microscopic Explorations (Life Sciences Education)

Microscopical Society of Southern California

Microscopy of Foods (Milos Kalab)

Microscopy Links (Gordon Couger)

Microscopy & Microanalysis Directories (Nestor Zaluzec)

Microscopy Resource Center (Olympus)

Microscopy Sites (John Innes Centre)

Microscopy Society of Southern Africa

Microscopy U (Nikon)

Micscape Articles Library & Archive (Microscopy UK)

Mineralogy Database (David Barthelmy)

My Homemade Microscope (Let’s Make Robots)

National Institute for Nanotechnology (National Research Council Canada)

One-Dollar Microscope (Fun Science Gallery)

Optical Design of Microscopes (International Society for Optics and Photonics)

Paleobotanical Tools (Klaus-Peter Kelber)

Project Micro (Microscopy Society of America)

Research Institute for Electronic Science (Hokkaido U)

Rocks & Minerals Directory

Scanning Tunneling Microscope Construction Kit (SXM Project)

Scientific Societies for Microscopy

Society for General Microbiology

Soil Micromorphology (Soil Science Society of America)

Tools for Students and Teachers (American Society of Hematology)

Turn Your Cellphone Into A High Powered Scientific Microscope (Wired)

Virtual Microscopes (Open University)

Virtual Library:  Microscopy  (U Oklahoma)

Water Drop Microscope for Water Quality Control (Rough Science on PBS)


And, for the benefit of your ears:

Hold On to Yourself (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)