Tag Archives: how a kaleidoscope works

Discovering the Difference: Kaleidoscopes Vs. Teleidoscopes

Kaleidoscopes vs Teleidoscopes

I remember as a child, looking into my little kaleidoscope and watching the colors move around and change shape, and I couldn’t figure out how this mystical device worked. I would shake the kaleidoscope and look into the other end so I could see the little colored balls, and wonder how they made different shapes and colors when you turned the kaleidoscope.

It would be later on in life when I learned how a kaleidoscope works – using mirrors, set in a particular angle to one another, which reflect the colors of the little objects at the end. These objects are generally acrylic balls, sand, or pieces of glass.

But then I recalled a few memories from the same period, in which I clearly remember looking through my kaleidoscope at a specific object in the room, and watching it change shape as I moved. It’s then that I realized I was mesmerized by a teleidoscope, which is commonly mistaken for its more popular counterpart.

Invented a hundred years after the kaleidoscope, the teleidoscope is open at the end, so you can aim it at any object and watch the object turn into geometric patterns. It uses mirrors and reflections to create the patterns, just like a kaleidoscope, but you can ultimately turn any object you wish into a rotating geometric image. Oh, the possibilities!