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Building a simple spectroscope

Building a simple spectroscope

A spectroscope is a device that lets us find out what things are made of. It works by taking light and splitting it up into its component colors. Different elements make different colors when they glow.
We can make objects and gasses glow by heating them up in a flame, or by passing electricity through them. The spectroscope spreads out the colors of the light, and we can identify the elements by the bright lines we see in the spectroscope.

Our spectroscope has three main parts. There is a slit made from two razor blades, a diffraction grating made from a CD disk, and a viewing port, made from a paper tube.

To make sure that all three parts are lined up properly, we will use the CD disk as a measuring device, and mark the spots where the slit and the viewing port will go.

Set the CD disk on top of the box, about a half inch from the left edge, and close to the box’s bottom, as shown in the photo. Use a pen to trace the circle inside the CD disk onto the box. This mark shows us where the paper tube will go.

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