What Is the Difference Between Concave & Convex Mirrors?

A convex mirror curves outward.
••• Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Sarah

Both concave and convex mirrors reflect light. However, one curves inward while the other curves outward. These mirrors also reflect images and light differently because of the placement of their focal points.

Principal Axis

The principal axis is an imaginary line that cuts through the center of a mirror dividing it symmetrically in half. Imagine this as a curve on a piece of paper.

Focal Point

The focal point is a spot on the principal axis where light would intersect if it were to strike the mirror parallel to the principal axis.

Shape

Concave mirrors curve inward, creating a focal point in front of the mirror. Convex mirrors curve outward creating a focal point behind the mirror.

Concave Image

Because of their shape and focal point placement, images in concave mirrors appear upside down and far away. However, when you move closer, the object enlarges. If you get close enough, the object enlarges more and the image is right-side up.

Convex Image

In a convex mirror, images appear right-side up, shrunken and virtual, or placed somewhere behind the mirror.

Related Articles

What Are the Subsets of a Line in Geometry?
Types of Mirrors and Lenses
The Focal Length of Microscope Objectives
What Makes Light Reflect Off of Mirrors?
How to Increase Resolution on Microscope
How Do Reflecting Telescopes Work?
What Are the Uses of a Converging Lens?
How to Find a Line of Reflection
What Are the Two Major Components of an Atom?
How Does Water Magnify Things?
Covalent Vs. Hydrogen Bonds
How to Divide Rational Numbers
How to Make a Simple Circuit
How to Solve a Parabola
How to Convert Pounds Per Square Foot to PSI
Test Your Knowledge on Middle School Science
Types of Mirrors and Lenses
How to Convert an Equation Into Vertex Form
How to Write a Linear Regression Equation

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!