Spectroscopy: Meterstick Spectroscope

Explore atomic spectroscopy using this Meterstick Spectroscope simulation. See how you can determine the emission spectra of hydrogen and other elements with a diffraction grating, a meterstick, and a little trigonometry.

The figure below shows a schematic diagram of a meterstick spectroscope.

To use the spectroscope, drag the eye of the observer until it lines up with an emission line. Geometry labels and the diffraction equation will appear.

Move the observer to different lines to see how wavelength changes with angle. Notice how the spectrum on the meterstick changes with the viewing angle.

To examine the spectra of different elements, change the light source.