How does a kaleidoscope work?


A kaleidoscope utilizes multiple mirrors, beads, pebbles, bits of glass and the principle of reflection to create beautiful images that captivate the spectator. Kaleidoscopes can rely on either a two- or three-mirror system. The angle of the interior mirrors affects the pattern viewed. Because the observed image depends on a combination of angles, light and randomly placed small objects, what is seen through the eyehole is never the same twice.

Within a kaleidoscope, multiple mirrors are placed at angles to one another. This is called the principle of multiple reflection. There is a collection of objects at one end of the mirror. At the other end is an eyehole. The mirrors create a tunnel; they are placed in a triangular configuration, usually 60 degrees of one another.

Two-mirror kaleidoscopes create patterns against a solid black background. A three-mirror kaleidoscope creates a full quilt of color that fills the entire field. Ultimately, the degree of the mirrors determines how many points are visible in the image.

Modern kaleidoscopes are made of a variety of materials, brass tubes, stained glass, wood and even steel. A similar device, the teleidoscope, replaces the object chamber with a lens that reflects and manipulates the appearance of objects it is pointed at.

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1 Additional Answer Answer for: how a kaleidoscope works
How Kaleidoscopes Work
A kaleidoscope is an enclosed tube that surrounds two or more mirrors placed at angles to each other. The angle and number of these mirrors will determine the image seen through the eye hole at one end. At the end piece of the kaleidoscope there can be a... More »
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A kaleidoscope works by reflecting light that bumps into a reflective surface such as a mirror. It has two or more mirrors placed at an angle to each other. The ...
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