A compound microscope uses a light source and lenses to view cells. The microscope magnifies cells so structures can be viewed, which are not visible to the naked eye.
When using a compound microscope, light shines through the specimen being viewed to a lens. The viewer sees the object through an eye piece. Most compound microscopes come with lenses of increasing magnification.
Compound microscopes are ideal for viewing cells because the light causes no damage to the cell. This allows living cells to be examined. Compound microscopes have low resolution, making distinguishing between parts of the cell difficult at times.