Magnifier: What is the Meaning of 2X Magnification?

Author: Janice VanCleave


What is the meaning of 2X magnification?


  • 2-quart (2-liter) pitcher
  • tap water
  • round, clear, empty quart liter) jar, with lid
  • baking pan
  • paper towel
  • sheet of lined notebook paper


  1. Fill the pitcher with water.
  2. Place the empty quart liter) jar in the pan.
  3. Magnifier

  4. Use the pitcher to fill the jar to overflowing with water. There should be no air bubbles left in the jar.
  5. Secure the lid on the jar.
  6. Dry the outside of the jar with the paper towel.
  7. Place the jar on its side in the center of the notebook paper, with its lid pointing toward the side of the paper.
  8. Slowly roll the jar toward you. Try to make the lines viewed though the bottle of water line up with the lines on the sheet of paper.
  9. Magnifier

  10. Describe the lines on the paper as viewed through the water.
  11. Count the number of spaces on the sheet of paper that fit into one space between the lines as viewed through the jar.


Looking through the jar of water makes the lines look farther apart. Two spaces on the sheet of paper used by the author fit into one space as viewed through the jar of water.


The distance between the lines as viewed through the jar of water is twice that of the distance between the lines on the paper outside the jar. This indicates that the magnification (the enlargement of an object's image) due to the water and glass of the jar is 2X. The expression 2X means the image viewed through the magnifier is two times as large as the actual object.

A compound microscope is a microscope with two or more lenses. The lens closest to your eye is called the eyepiece, and the lens closest to the object being viewed is called the objective lens. The magnification of the eyepiece is usually 10X, and the microscope generally has several objective lenses of different magnification. The low-power objective lens of the author's microscope has a magnification of 10X, and the high-power objective is 60X. Combining the eyepiece and the low-power objective gives a magnification of 10 times 10, or 100X. The combination of the eyepiece and the high-power objective gives a magnification of 10 times 60, or 600X The image of objects viewed through this compound microscope under low power looks 100 times as large as the object's actual size. The same object viewed through the high power appears to be 600 times as large.

Let's Explore

  1. Does the shape of the jar affect its magnification? Repeat the original experiment using a jar with a larger circumference (the distance around the outside), such as a gallon (4-liter) fruit-juice jar or a plastic soda bottle. Repeat again using a jar with a smaller circumference, such as a tall, slender olive jar. Science Fair Hint: Glass containers are usually not allowed as part of a project display. Experiment with as many plastic containers as possible and stand these in front of sheets of lined paper to demonstrate their magnifying abilities.
  2. Would a greater magnification be achieved by filling the jar with a more viscous liquid? Repeat the original experiment, replacing the water with clear corn syrup or mineral oil.

Show Time!

The area viewed through a microscope is called the field of vision. An increase in magnification changes the field of vision. Demonstrate this change by cutting a 1-inch (25-cm) hole in the center of two sheets of typing paper. The holes are to be equal in size. The holes represent fields of vision. Place one sheet of typing paper over a sheet of newspaper. Use the hole in the typing paper as a guide to draw a circle on the newspaper. Mark a dot in the center of the circle drawn on the newspaper.



Ask an adult to make an enlarged photocopy of the newspaper. Tape one of the sheets of typing paper over the enlarged copy and observe.

Tape the second sheet of typing paper over the original newspaper, and include both as part of a display.

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