6D20.28 - Spectroscopes

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Diffraction and Wavelength
Area of Study:
Optics, Astronomy
Spectroscopes (assorted), Night Spectra Quest card.

Point the slit end of the spectroscope toward the desired light source.  By looking through the grating at an angle the emission spectrum of that light source should be seen.

  • Carl Faust, Seth Ashman, "An Affordable Self-Built Spectrometer for the Physics and Astronomy Classroom: A Useful Teaching Tool and Demonstration Instrument", TPT, Vol. 59, #8, Nov. 2021, p. 617.
  • Ching-Chi Chu, "Portable Pop-Up Spectroscope", TPT, Vol. 50, #7, Oct. 2012, p. 443.
  • "Figuring Physics", TPT, Vol. 43, #2, Feb. 2005, p. 117.
  • Aidan Byrne, "Compact Disk Spectroscopes Revisited!", TPT, Vol. 41, #3, March 2003, p. 144. 
  • Tim Knauer, "A Compact Disk Transmission Spectroscope", TPT, Vol. 40, #8, Nov. 2002, p. 466.
  • Christopher J. Olney, "Refractive Index of a Liquid as a Function of Temperature", TPT, Vol. 36, #1, Jan. 1998, p. 46.
  • Stephen Jacobs, "Night Spectra Quest", TPT, Vol. 33, #6, Sept. 1995, p. 380.
  • Robert Scherzer, "An Improved Diffraction Grating Spectroscope Experiment", TPT, Vol. 33, #4, Apr. 1995, p. 222.
  • George A. Burman, "Overhead Spectroscopy", TPT, Vol. 29, #7, July 1991, p. 470.
  • Edwin Paul Heideman, "Film-Canister Spectroscope", TPT, Vol. 28, #5, May 1990, p. 343.
  • David G. Willey, "Optical Phenomenon", TPT, Vol. 27, #7, Oct. 1989, p. 503.
  • Carol Ouellet, "Should the Prism Be Well Centered?", TPT, Vol. 26, #3, Mar. 1988, p. 162.
  • S. E. Kaufman, "Astronomy Spectra Experiment for Nonscience Students", TPT, Vol. 20, #3, Mar. 1982, p. 170.
  • Wallace A. Hilton, "A Corridor Demonstration for the Minimum Angle of Deviation", TPT, Vol. 16, #4, Apr. 1978, p. 242.
  • Wallace A. Hilton, "Large Scale Demonstration of the Minimum Angle of Deviation", TPT, Vol. 7, #9, Dec. 1969, p. 513.
  • Roy H. Biser, "The Bicycle Fender Spectrometer", TPT, Vol. 7, #7, Oct. 1969, p. 405.
  • Brother Shamus C.F.X., "Cigar Box Spectoscope", TPT, Vol. 5, #4, Apr. 1967, p. 173, also A Potpourri of Physics Teaching Ideas - Optics and Waves, p. 226.
  • Z. V. Harvalik, "A Simple Demonstration Spectroscope", TPT, Vol. 4, #3, March 1966, p. 130.
  • Thomas B. Greenslade Jr., "Spectroscope Camera", AJP, Vol. 90, #11, Nov. 2022, p. 832.
  • William W. Luo and Hendrik J. Gerritsen, "Seeing the Fraunhofer Lines with only a Diffraction Grating and a Slit", AJP, Vol. 61, #7, July 1993, p. 632.
  • D. W. Bowman, T. B. Cobb, A. J. Crandall, G. C. Duncan, K. F. Mucker, R. L. Ptak, C. T. Shirkey, E. B. Singleton, R. E. Stoner, "A Simply Constructed, Single-Schlitz Spectroscope", AJP, Vol. 41, #7, July 1973, p. 932.
  • L. H. Greenberg and T. Balez, "Spectral Analysis Using a Camera", AJP, Vol. 40, #2, Feb. 1972, p. 319.
  • Simon Quellen Field, "A Simple Spectroscope", Gonzo Gizmos, p. 208 - 220.
  • "21, Model of a Grating Spectroscope", Experiments in Optics, Part 1, J. Klinger Scientific Apparatus Corp., Bulletin 101. 
  • T. D. Rossing and C. J. Chiaverina, "Experiment 6.1, Spectrum Analysis With A Prism Spectrometer" and "Experiment 6.2, Spectrum Analysis With A Diffraction Grating", Light Science, Physics and Visual Arts, p. 399.
  • "A Study of Spectra", Selective Experiments in Physics, CENCO, 1962.
  • "Index of Refraction; Simple Spectrometer", Selective Experiments in Physics, CENCO, 1959.
  • "The Prism Spectrometer", Selective Experiments in Physics, CENCO, 1942.
  • W. Bolton, "Spectra", Book 2 - Waves and Particles, Physics Experiments and Projects, 1968, p. 42 - 43.
  • W. Bolton, "Spectrophotometer", Book 2 - Waves and Particles, Physics Experiments and Projects, 1968, p. 83 -84.
  • W. Bolton, "UltraViolet Wavelength Spectrometer", Book 2 - Waves and Particles, Physics Experiments and Projects, 1968, p. 84 - 86.
  • The Queen Catalogues Vol. I, Catalogue of Meteorological Instruments, Spectroscope, p. 73.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.