Synchrotron light is usually treated with a rather complicated electrodynamics formalism. However. its basic properties can be easily understood with a simple approach based on the classical emission of electromagnetic radiation by an accelerated charge in a constant or periodic magnetic field, on a combination of relativistic phenomena (Lorentz contraction and Doppler effect) and on simple Fourier-theorem arguments. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science BM All rights reserved.