What is a refractometer and what do you use it for?

Due to so many useful tools that science has to offer, we have the opportunity to make our lives easier and observe small details that otherwise would slip unnoticed. One of these interesting tools is the refractometer. This optical device is quite similar to a hydrometer and is used for measuring the specific gravity of different types of liquids. The reason why the refractometer is more useful than a hydrometer is that it only needs a few drops in order to provide accurate results.

For instance, if you get a glass filled with clear water you’ll notice that both the water and the glass bends the light that passes through the glass in a certain way. This bending of the light process is called refraction. Light is able to bed to numerous degrees when it passes through substances. Basically, it’s the same effect you get when the eyeglasses lens bends the light and allow the glasses to adjust and focus the image so that you can see it clearly.

The interesting aspect is when you start adding sugar to the glass of water, the refraction is amplified. This is when you need to get a refractometer that can measure the bending and gives information regarding the amount of sugar found in the water. A refractometer can provide this data because they are equipped with a prism and a light source that actually illuminate the substance.


There are several types of refractometers depending on the applications, requirements, training, and measurement environment found in laboratories. Generally, they range from desktop to handheld units, manual and electronic devices, each of them outfitted with different levels of precision.

These instruments make a great investment because they can be used on a daily basis and can last a lifetime if they are handled properly.

If you need a tool solely for the purpose of testing wine or making sure the substance won’t freeze, a small handheld refractometer will do a great job for your needs. You’ll find plenty of these tools that can be operated with batteries or non-electronic units, that require ambient light in order to make a visual estimation. However, it’s best to opt for digital tools that are more accurate even though they weigh a tad more. Small-sized refractometers are an excellent choice for labs, field work, or even for personal use.

Larger devices come in hand for manufacturing companies that need to maintain a high level of quality and stick to certain guidelines. They cost more but also feature a top-notch performance and superior optics.

If a handheld unit ensures a resolution from 0.1 to 0.01, big size lab instruments can reach even 0.0001. Large refractometers typically come with a computer and other small accessories that ensure correct results.

What do binoculars numbers mean?


The only way you can choose between several pairs of binoculars is to learn what the numbers mentioned in the product description actually mean. This can be a tad confusing for someone that has never used binoculars. It’s important to understand what each number is associated with because this way you can get the binoculars that are more suitable for your needs. For instance, individuals that are searching for a pair to use on their hunting game won’t buy the same model that goes swell with stargazing activities.

The first number you’ll notice indicated the power magnification of the binoculars or how many times the unit can make the object you are viewing to appear closer than it would with your naked eye. The magnification uses the ocular lenses which are close to the eye but don’t have any major impact on the level of magnification. Sometimes smaller lenses provide a higher magnification.


However, a higher magnification isn’t necessarily a must because even though the binoculars bring the image much closer but it will alter with the clarity. Basically, you won’t be able to see the fine details and the surrounding objects. If you want to purchase an item in order to do some birdwatching or see a sports game from a far distance, you definitely shouldn’t go with a large magnification.


Also, units that come with a powerful magnification are less stable and if you have the tendency to shake your hands, you won’t get to benefit much from this type of binoculars. Therefore, consider your ability to hold them for a longer period of time and the purpose.

The second number found in the designation is related to the aperture of the item. This feature is controlled by the objective lenses, those that are the closest one to your eye when viewing the images. The number pointed out in the description is indeed the size of the diameter of the objective lenses. Normally, the numbers are expressed in millimeters. If the number is increased, then the lenses are mode wide, thus, there’s more light they collect.

Nevertheless, the size of the objective lenses has to do with the casing of the binoculars. So when you buy a pair with a large aperture it will clearly be heavier than normal. If you don’t mind carrying that extra weight with you, you won’t mind this issue.

Binoculars outfitted with a small objective lens diameter are more suitable for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, or birdwatching. On the other hand, tools that are equipped with a higher aperture are excellent for intense activities where it is crucial to get as much light as possible.

The best way to understand which pair satisfies your personal needs, you should try as many pairs as possible and decide accordingly.



A short telescope glossary



If you are looking for a short telescope glossary, here are the most relevant terms to keep in mind. There are many new words to learn about, but once you get more acquainted with them, things will become easier to understand.

Aperture – this is the most important factor to learn about in a telescope. It represents the diameter of the lens, and the larger this number is, the more light will be filtered through the device. That means that the image of the stars you need to gaze upon will be much clearer, due to the significant amount of light gathered.

To give you an idea about the importance of aperture in a telescope, you should know that doubling the aperture value, leads to multiplying the light gathering capacity of a telescope four times.

Altazimuth mount – the mount on which the telescope should be placed must have two axes. One should move up and down – which counts for moving on altitude, while the other should move side to side – which counts for azimuth moving capability. You may notice similarities between this type of mount and a tripod used for photography.

Apparent magnitude – this value measures star brightness as it appears to the naked eye. You will notice that a lower apparent magnitude stands for a brighter star.

Coated optics – the lens must have a certain type of coating, to enhance contrast and improve light transmission. Coated optics have a layer of magnesium fluoride applied to the lens.

Dobsonian – this is the name given to an altazimuth mounted model that is supported by a rocker box base. Its name is derived from the person who created the design, an amateur astronomer by the name of John Dobson.

Focal length – while this term is not as important as aperture, the focal length of your telescope plays a major role in your stargazing capabilities. The term is used to describe the distance between the lens and the focal point.

Focal length is closely related to magnification. The higher the first, the better the latter. Aperture, however, limits the value of the focal length.

Focal ratio – this term is used to describe the optical design of the device you are using. It is calculated as the ratio between the focal length and the aperture. You must bear in mind that this specification does not play any role in image quality.

However, it is important when pictures must be taken. A model with a smaller focal ratio is usually faster than one with a larger focal ratio. For telescopes, this may not be essential, unless you want to make a difference between so-called faster and slower telescopes.

Resolution – this term stands for the capacity of a telescope to show a more detailed picture of the celestial body you examine through the device.