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Virtual Image in Mirrors

  1. Jul 20, 2011 #1
    I am having trouble understanding how mirrors have only either a virtual image or a real image. Take a concave mirror for example.

    If the object is placed between the mirror and the focal point, then there is a magnified virtual image.

    If the object is placed between the focal point and the center of curvature, then there is a magnified and inverted real image.

    If the object is placed beyond the center of curvature, then there is a demagnified and inverted real image.

    In the latter two cases, what would you see if you just looked at the mirror since there is only a real image? Also, if you positioned yourself so that your eye is right behind the real image in any of the latter two cases, would you see the real image, which is what my textbook says? The light converges at the real image and then diverges then entering your eye. Your eye would interpret that as coming from the real image because the multiple rays that it receives converges at that real image, is that not true? But since it's a real image, I thought you weren't able to see it.

    I am so confused, please help me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2011 #2

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Why would you think that? The cool thing about real images is that they can appear to be suspended in mid air. Check this out:
  4. Jul 23, 2011 #3
    Oh oops, I just read the following sections and it explained why a real image can be seen. It also said that you can't distinguish a real image from a virtual one. Thanks for the video, it makes it clearer. :)
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