Chris Jones and Alex Ball

See animals, plants and crystals in a whole new light in Close-up, a stunning book full of amazing images created by scanning electron microscope (SEM).

978 0 565 09172 9
May 2004
140 x 150 mm
64 pp
Colour throughout
Natural History Museum


All of the images in this book have been produced by the Natural History Museum's internationally respected Electron Microscope Unit.  At this level of detail, reality can be quite surprising and even the most mundane object becomes a thing of great beauty. Pollen grains, the bane of hayfever sufferers, become dramatic sculptures. The underside of a leaf is an impenetrable thicket of spines and a giant spider looks at you with eight huge eyes. This book is guaranteed to make you look and make you ask questions: What is that? Where is it from? What does it do?

SEM photography
SEM technology is a vital scientific tool, able to bypass the limits of conventional microscopy and reveal objects smaller than the wavelength of light itself. Samples usually require extensive preparation including chemical fixation, dehydration and an ultra-thin metallic coating before they are ready to go into the microscope's vacuum chamber.

See inside

Look inside this book to get an idea of its content.

Pages from Close-up

Black garden ant, Lasius niger and South American jumping ant, Gigantiops destructor.

Pages from Close-up

Oriental rat flea or plague flea, Xenopsylla cheopis.

Pages from Close-up

Seven-spot ladybird, Coccinella 7-punctata.

Pages from Close-up

A honey bee mite, Varroa destructor.

Pages from Close-up

Pollen grains show enormous variation in structure.

Pages from Close-up

The adults of this parasitic flatworm grow up to 11 mm in length.


Alex Ball has worked at the Natural History Museum since 1997 and has a PhD in Zoology, specialising in research on gastropod molluscs.

Chris Jones worked at the Natural History Museum from 1988 to 2004 and is now an applications specialist in electron microscopy for Hitachi. His research work has included studies of the minerals in artist's pigments, working with samples from major art galleries.


Find out what others think of this book.

"Lavishly illustrated in colour...contains many stunning examples from the world of insects. Every entomologist should have the opportunity of using a scanning electron microscope at some stage during their lifetimes as it allow you to see whole insects at high magnification in perfect focus. You can see how the aphid's stylets or the mosquito's mouthparts are arranged for probing and equally how hairy and waxy some plant surfaces are that larvae have to hold onto or eat. You really do enter the insect world."

British Journal of Entomology and Natural History

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