Car in Mirror


  • Turn the light on with the switch.
  • Stand back to line on the floor and look into the mirror. If you need to, stand on the step provided.


What do you see in the mirror?



Answer:   You should see a small car.

This is the real image of the small car being reflected by the mirror. A real image is formed when the rays of reflected light meet.


Where is the object that you see in the mirror?



Answer: The car is upside down and on the side of the black support post toward the mirror.


WHY: When the light rays leaving the object (Car) are reflected off the surface of the mirror, they meet to form the real image that is inverted (upside down) compared to the original. Since the car is located near the center of curvature of the spherical mirror (twice the distance of the focal length), the image of the car appears to be at about the same distance away and size as the actual object.


Light from the room travels in many directions from the car to the mirror. Two of those light rays that start at the same point on the car are shown here in red and blue. After those rays of light are reflected, they eventually meet up again, which forms the image of the car.

Original 1918 Museum Exhibit, Updated