CMMS Fall Social Outing 2019

Meteorites: From Microscopes to Telescopes!

On Friday, 18 October 2019, CMMS had our Fall Social event at the Maryland Space Grant Consortium (MDSGC) at Johns Hopkins University. The evening began with delicious pizza from Joe Squared, and was followed up by CMMS Treasurer Emma Bullock giving a talk about meteorites – what they are, how we recognize them, some of the methods we can use to study them (focusing on optical and scanning electron microscopes – this is a Microscopy event after all!), and what they can tell us about our solar system.

CMMS Treasurer Emma Bullock brought along some real meteorites to the Fall Social. Here she is demonstrating an imaginary meteorite crashing through the atmosphere.

Following the talk, a series of hands‐on demonstrations gave everyone a chance to be a scientist for the night. Liz Carter demonstrated a Hitachi tabletop scanning electron microscope (generously provided by CMMS sponsor Angstrom Scientific) that was used to look at everything from butterflies to seeds, while CMMS President Ru‐ching brought along a USB microscope that allowed everyone to get up close to some fantastic insects. Emma had brought some real meteorites that people could hold – including a piece of an asteroid core (a rock made of metal!), a piece of the solar system that is 4.567 billion years old (older than planet earth!) and a meteorite that is a mix of metal and rocky material (one of the most beautiful types of rock). Our hosts at MDSGC also laid on demonstrations, including a mirascope (which uses mirrors to make it look as though an object in a box is floating above the box), and a series of “discharge tubes” containing different gases – when a current is passed through the gas, different spectral lines can be viewed through a diffraction grating. Different gases have different emission spectra –astronomers use this technique to look at distant stars and determine the elements of which they are made.

Close‐up of one of the meteorites. This is a piece of an iron meteorite that fell in the Sikhote‐Alin mountains in Russia in 1947. It is a piece of an asteroid core, and was chosen “the most fun meteorite to hold” by attendees of the CMMS Fall Social, owing to its smooth surface.

One of the highlights of the evening was the opportunity to use the MDSGC telescope to observe other planets. We were incredibly lucky to have a beautiful clear night, and so were able to see Jupiter (plus three of its moons) and Saturn (and its large moon Titan).

Attendees got the chance to use the Maryland Space Grant Observatory 20” telescope to look at Saturn and its large moon Titan.
This image of a butterfly antenna was one of many awesome images taken by our attendees at the CMMS Fall Social. The instrument used was a Hitachi tabletop SEM, kindly supplied by Angstrom Scientific and operated by Liz Carter. For more information about Angstrom Scientific and their products, check out their website at
Passing a current through a tube filled with gas, then looking through a polarizing lens at the spectrum of the emitted light, can tell you about the composition of the gas. It is a technique used by astronomers to look at the composition of distant stars.

The event had a fantastic turnout – over 50 people came out to celebrate microscopes and telescopes with us, including about 15 children, many of whom are now keen to become astronauts and engineers. We hope you can join us for our next event.

– Emma Bullock, CMMS Treasurer

CMMS Members at M&M 2019, Portland

We hope everyone who attended M&M 2019 had a great time. Ru-Ching caught up with some local CMMS members enjoying the conference.


CMMS-UMB Joint Dinner, May 2019

Following the annual “Current EM Techniques Workshop” at UMB, CMMS hosted a joint dinner followed by 2 excellent talks given by Dr. Rhonda Stroud (US Naval Research Laboratory, MAS President) and Dr. Jiwen Zheng (FDA/Center for Devices and Radiological Health).

Dr. Rhonda Stroud described her research on the isotopic composition of interplanetary dust particles and micrometeorites and how it aids our understanding of the primitive astromaterials in the early solar system.

Dr. Jiwen Zheng described how electron microscopy research at FDA is used for testing generic drug products and for evaluating medical devices such as the coatings on guidewires surrogates.

CMMS Spring Meeting 2019

On Tuesday March 5th, members of the Chesapeake Microscopy & Microanalysis Society gathered at the Carnegie Institution of Science for the CMMS Spring Dinner. Catering was Mediterranean food provided by Mezze, and during dinner informal talks were given by each of the Board of Directors about their role gathered at the Carnegie Institution of Science for the CMMS Sprig Dinner. Following dinner, the group adjourned to the adjacent seminar room to listen to two talks. Catering was Mediterranean food provided by Mezze, and during dinner informal talks were given by each of the Board of Directors about their role in the Society. Following dinner, the group adjourned to the adjacent seminar room to listen to two talks.

The first talk was by Gary Bauchan from USDA ARS on the parasitic Varroa mites feeding on honey bees, and how cryo-SEM, TEM and Confocal techniques revealed that the mites feed on bee fat, not their blood as previously thought. He even brought along a 3D printed mite scaled up to human size, to give us an idea of what it would be like to be attacked by one ourselves!

The second talk was by Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Institution of Science, who told us about Martian meteorites, and how they can be used to help us search for life on Mars. While no life has yet been detected on the Red Planet, meteorite samples of the Martian surface can tell us about the presence of water and organic compounds that could have potentially formed the building blocks of life on Mars.

CMMS Communications Officer, Joe Mowery, demonstrates the new CMMS website.

Fall Tour of the Billings Microscope Collection at NMHM


We had a great turnout for the CMMS tour of the Billing’s Microscope Collection at the National Museum of Health and Medicine on December 7, 2018. Part of the museum is open to the public and there were many interesting medical specimens and instruments on display.


CMMS was able to arrange a private behind the scenes tour of the more rare microscopes in the NMHM storage facilities. A few of the notable microscopes we observed include one of Roberts Hooke’s original microscopes, replicas of Leeuwenhoek microscopes, and a TEM captured during WWII, among many others. While we were not permitted to take pictures of the microscopes, they were certainly stunning to observe.


Following the 1.5 hr tour, we grouped back up at McGinty’s Pub in Silver Spring for appetizers and drinks, generously provided courtesy of ThermoFisher. A great time was had by all, and we look forward to organizing similar events in the future.

Your CMMS Officers