I’ve just been sent this link to a virtual microscope set up by the Open University’s Knowledge Media Insitute. The petrological microscope is especially nifty; not only can you pan and zoom, but you can also switch between plane polarised and cross polarised light, and even rotate selected points to look at extinction angles. These are important features if you want to work out what minerals you’re looking at; in cross-polarised light, different minerals turn lots of pretty colours, which can change depending on the angle you look at it.
There’s currently only a handful of samples publically available (including lunar and martian meteorites), but it’s quite fun to play around with. With a few more to choose from, I could brush up on my mineral identification, which is not one of my stronger areas…
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