We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Monocular Microscope?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A microscope is an instrument that produces an accurately enlarged image of small objects so that the user can see things on a larger scale. The word microscope comes from the New Latin word microscopium, which comes from the the combining form micr-, meaning “small” and scope, meaning “an instrument for viewing.” The word monocular is from Late Latin monoculus, which means “having one eye.” Thus, a monocular microscope is an instrument for viewing small things through a single lens.

Microscopes are classed both by the number of eyepieces, as well as by the way in which the image is enlarged. While a monocular microscope is made for one eye, binocular and stereo microscopes are made for both eyes. Trinocular microscopes are binocular or stereomicroscopes with a third eyepiece, which may either be for a second person to share the view or in order to affix a digital camera or video camera to the third eyepiece in order to create a lasting record of what was seen.

A monocular microscope can have single or compound lenses. Simple microscopes—those with a single lens—are only available as monocular microscopes. Single lens monocular microscopes include the various types of lenses that are also known as magnifying glasses. Also included are jeweler’s lenses or loupes, and reading glasses. Many people are not used to thinking of these as microscopes, but that is how they are classified.

Since various types of image distortion occur with a single lens, their uses are limited. One type is chromatic aberration, which distorts color. Another is spherical aberration with distorts the focus.

A compound lens magnifier is different from a compound microscope. A compound lens magnifier is one single array of simple lenses with a common access. The use of a compound lens is attractive because it can correct some of the single lens aberrations, as well as magnify at a higher power, and being handheld, it has the same flexibility as a magnifying glass or loupe. It is, by nature, a monocular microscope.

Although a compound microscope has a minimum of two lens arrays, which helps to increase the maximum magnification possible, it can still be a monocular microscope if it only has one eyepiece. One of the arrays is the ocular, and this is the lens array that the viewer looks through. The other lens array is the objective, which is positioned near the object that is being viewed.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for All The Science, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By allenJo — On Jun 28, 2011

@Charred - Yeah, I saw a program on amazing inventions and they also talked about another kind of microscope, the fluorescent microscope.

It basically works by beaming some fluorescent light at a sample, and then a weaker fluorescent light is reflected back.

Then a filter separates the two lights and creates the resulting image. It was pretty impressive and they showed how they used it to study things like blood samples for example.

By Charred — On Jun 26, 2011

@hamje32 - There are different microscope types depending on what you want to do; each of course come with varying degrees of magnification.

In industrial applications, I understand that they use what’s called a phase contrast microscope. My friend works in waste management and he tells me that they use this kind of microscope to examine hard to see things like specimens in sludge deposits.

It comes with a Halogen lamp and a Leica lens-one of the best lenses in the industry-to provide super sharp detail of images that would normally be impossible to see with a consumer grade lens.

Of course these microscopes are expensive, and more suited for labs and research facilities than anything else. I don’t think you need them to look at the plants in your backyard.

By hamje32 — On Jun 25, 2011

@David09 - That’s an impressive range for microscope magnification. It amazes me how two pieces of glass (assuming you’re using a compound microscope) can bend light in such a way as to create incredible details of magnification.

I think with the electron microscope, there is almost no limit to the magnification levels achieved. I once heard a scientist say that it might even be possible to see atoms themselves, the very building blocks of the universe, using an electron microscope.

By David09 — On Jun 23, 2011

My daughter invested in a student microscope when taking one of several courses on plant biology in college. It’s a monocular microscope that provides 400 times magnification, and also has a USB wire hookup so that she can transmit the images to a computer.

I guess it’s an electronic monocular microscope-she decided upon this extra functionality because she wanted to keep the images on her computer and use them in her reports. Even after she completed her courses she kept the unit and has been having a lot of fun continuing to look at plant and insect life in our backyard.

Of course, she’s planning to pursue this as a career, but even I found it fun to use. You see so much detail in the world around you and it just opens your eyes to how much of your immediate environment is just teeming with life at every level.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.