My friend Richard is really into spiders. He loves them, so when I said I might look at one under the microscope he immediately checked that I was not going to harm any. He even went so far as to send me a deceased spider in the post, a lovely Tegenaria. It’s a little dehydrated but it is still very spidery and a fascinating subject. He sent me another one but I had a job interview and haven’t had time to photograph it yet. Such a shame because it’s a real beauty. I should be able to get it done on Monday.
Tegenaria is a common house spider. Several pictures were taken under a stereo microscope using incident lighting and the pictures were stacked using Helicon focus software. I’m a big fan of Helicon because it’s idiot proof. The pedipalps are shown in the second and third picture. Pedipalps, or palps as they are often called, are the sex organs which the male spiders use to transfer seminal fluid to the females during mating. Mating is a dangerous business for male spiders because the females have a tendency to consume their mates.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne’er come down again.”
By Mary Howitt 1829
Underside of spider palp
I have been playing with my new MX7T stereomicroscope from Brunel Microscopes and I’m very pleased with it. It has incident and transmitted light and by using a variety of eyepieces I have a magnification range of 10X – 80X. The strawberry seed pictures below were taken at 10X or 20X magnification using incident light. They look very fine. Like beautiful golden eggs.
The pictures are much better than I expected too. I’m not terribly well set up for photography with a stereoscope but I came across an interesting widget on eBay. It’s a telescope or microscope adaptor for a camera. Joy8899 sells a version but I got mine from Poland. The adaptor screws onto the lens of my Canon EOS 1100D and the other end clamps around the eyepiece of my microscope. Cheap and cheerful and really not too bad at doing the job. The weight of the camera does tend to force the microscope out of focus a little but not so badly that it causes huge problems. You just need to keep half an eye on it and it’s all very easy when the camera is on Live View mode and the shutter is remotely operated ie. you have enough hands available.
Pictures taken with a Brunel MX7T stereomicroscope using incident illumination 10X and 20X:
I love this one, you can see the indent the seed sits in very clearly.
I also took some pictures of some very lovely mould that was growing on a Queen Charlotte cake.
Not bad for a beginner. I think I might post them on the yahoo group. They’re colourful if not perfect 🙂
Waiting for an MX7T stereomicroscope to arrive from Brunel microscopes.
Excited much? Why yes, I am!
WIth my 5X, 10X, 15X and 20X eyepieces I shall be able to go from 10-80X magnification. More than enough for most purposes.
I only wish it could do 5X magnification. Does anyone sell 2.5X eyepieces? I’m sure they are available if you pay enough money. What I really mean is are they available at a non-silly price?
It’s an ex-demonstration microscope so I got it a little cheaper than I would have done otherwise. It’s only been used by the folks at Brunel so I know it will be in good condition. They’re very good. I recommend them.
I’m hoping it arrives before my husband gets home from work so I can pop it in the cupboard before he can throw his arms up in horror and say “ANOTHER MICROSCOPE!“