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Beautiful Snowflakes and Snow Crystals

Updated on December 26, 2013

In Celebration of Snowflakes and Snow Crystals

Most would agree that a snow-covered field is a beautiful sight. But deep within that snow lies a symphony of microscopic beauty in each of the individual snowflakes and snow crystals. In 1885, Wilson Bentley became the first person to photograph a single snowflake, and since then people around the world have been able to marvel at the simple beauty of these tiny works of art. This lens celebrates the beauty of snowflakes and snow crystals.

(Public domain snow flake photo by Wilson Bentley on Wikimedia Commons)

Snowflakes are always six-sided.

They can be categorized in six main shapes - plate or flat, stars, column, needle, dendrite and capped column.

Snow crystals grow fastest near 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most snowflakes are less than a half inch across.

The Guinness Book of World Records says the largest snowflake recorded ever was 38 cm (15 in) across by 20 cm (8 in) thick and was found in Montana.

We've all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. But is it true?

According to Wikipedia, "Strictly speaking, it is extremely unlikely for any two macroscopic objects in the universe to contain an identical molecular structure; but there are, nonetheless, no known scientific laws that prevent it. In a more pragmatic sense, it's more likely-albeit not much more-that two snowflakes are virtually identical if their environments were similar enough, either because they grew very near one another, or simply by chance. The American Meteorological Society has reported that matching snow crystals were discovered in Wisconsin in 1988 by Nancy Knight of the National Center for Atmospheric Research."

Cloud physicist Jon Nelson from Ritsumeikan University in Japan also says it "very likely" that identical snowflakes exist.

In an article in LiveScience, Nelson said:

"How likely is it that two snowflakes are alike? Very likely if we define alike to mean that we would have trouble distinguishing them under a microscope and if we include the crystals that hardly develop beyond the prism stage-that is, the smallest snow crystals."

Who Was the First Person to Photograph Snowflakes? - Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley captured over 5000 images in his lifetime

In 1883, long before cameras became commonplace, 17-year-old Wilson Bentley convinced his parents to purchase one of these expensive new pieces of technology. Two years later, on January 15, 1885, he became the first person to capture a photo of a single snowflake. At first, people doubted the authenticity of his photos, but over time he became known for his achievements. His book, Snow Crystals, was published in 1931.

Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book)
Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book)

This book for children tells the story of Wilson Bentley, the Snowflake Man. It was awarded the Caldecott Medal.

 

Snow Crystal Photos by Wilson Bentley

Public domain images from "Snowflake Bentley"

These are just a few of the photos of beautiful snow crystal patterns recorded by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley during his lifetime.

"Snowflake" Bentley's Book of Snow Crystals - Get a closer view of snowflakes

Throughout his life, Wilson Bentley captured over 5000 images of snow crystals. In 1931, he published a book containing many of these images. Although the original hardcover version is long out of print, the paperback version contains the same original, groundbreaking photos.

The Art of the Snowflake - More images of snowflakes

Since Wilson Bentley photographed the first snow crystal over 100 years ago, many others have recorded images of these beautiful patterns. You can find many more images in this book.

Snow Crystals Slideshow

Snowflake Ornaments - Hang them on your tree!

The beauty of their intricate shapes have made snowflakes a perennial favorite when it comes to Christmas tree ornaments. Here are some currently available.

Make a Snowflake

A fun site for kids

Make a Flake is one of those sites where you can happily waste time and bandwidth on mindless entertainment. Use their virtual scissors to cut the paper on the screen and soon you'll have your own (virtual) paper snowflake without all the paper trimmings on your floor. You can then save it to the gallery or email it so others can enjoy your artwork.

Did You Learn Something New About Snowflakes? - Let us know or just say hi!

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    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 4 years ago

      I did; I'm trying to wrap my head around a 15" snowflake - wow! What a neat little lens and a fun read :o)

    • awesomedealz4u profile image

      awesomedealz4u 5 years ago

      Interesting lens!

    • awesomedealz4u profile image

      awesomedealz4u 5 years ago

      Interesting lens!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      You covered the subject well! I love the snowflake pictures and the intricacies of the flakes. It's interesting to read that it's likely a myth about no two snowflakes being alike. I always wondered who could check them all! Blessed in honor of Punxsutawney Phil!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      You covered the subject well! I love the snowflake pictures and the intricacies of the flakes. It's interesting to read that it's likely a myth about no two snowflakes being alike. I always wondered who could check them all! Blessed in honor of Punxsutawney Phil!

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 5 years ago

      fun page.

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 5 years ago

      fun page.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • OzGirl LM profile image

      OzGirl LM 5 years ago

      I have always loved snowflakes in art. This is a great lens, esp loved the info about Bentley and his first snowflake photos. I may have to get his book!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      wow. it is really amazing. what a beautiful natural designs and structure. thanks for the info and lovely photos.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 5 years ago

      Snowflakes are so cool! I love them!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Winter for me has some of the most beautiful images and snowflakes on trees when they turn to ice are tops.

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 5 years ago from Missouri

      The photos of snowflakes are great. Thanks for sharing!

    • MadHaps LM profile image

      MadHaps LM 5 years ago

      From Buffalo but living in FLA since 72 haven't seen snow in years. Nice lens, new to Squdidoo only have done one myself "Orchids of the Americas" while seeing how everyone else puts things together.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 6 years ago

      It's amazing to see the actual structure of snowflakes. I didn't realize before that there are six types of snowflake forms. Stunning!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      This is lovely. It's the only time that I like to see snow now; in a photo.

      Blessings.

    • natashaely profile image

      natashaely 6 years ago

      What a lovely lens, the snowflakes look wonderful :)

    • profile image

      AmateurAtHTML 6 years ago

      So pretty to look at. So heavy to lift when you have to shovel snow! Thanks for this page!

    • Sea0tter profile image

      Sea0tter 7 years ago

      What a beautiful and informative lens!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      Well done

    • caketech profile image

      caketech 7 years ago

      Angel blessings to you! I love the intricate designs of snowflakes!

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 7 years ago

      Snowflakes never cease to fascinate me! Beautiful lens!

    • compugraphd profile image

      compugraphd 7 years ago

      Check your date on the first snowflake photographer part. I think you made a slight typo. :-) -- like the lens, BTW.

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 7 years ago

      I love snow even though I rarely see it in Georgia. I love the christmas ornament that you have featured, beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Snowflakes are truly the most unique form of precipitation.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 8 years ago from South Africa

      Oh what a delightful Lens... Came across it while researching Bentley for a Unit Study I am doing on- wait for it -> THE SNOW QUEEN - thought Snowflake Activities would complete it... :D) Thank you

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Snowflakes are just amazing. I do believe it certainly is possible for there to be identical flakes ... but I sure doubt anyone will ever find them! I never realized, though, they all had six sides. Interesting.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Hi,

      My name is Elizabeth Jean Allen and I am the new group leader for the Nature and the Outdoors Group.

      Lizzy

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 8 years ago

      Snow flakes seem so simple on the outside but are so complex. Beautiful lens.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to The Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

      Lizzy

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 8 years ago from PA

      wonderful lens. I really enjoyed it.

    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 8 years ago

      Great lens Lisa. Thanks for supporting A Day of Hope! :-)

    • profile image

      GrowWear 9 years ago

      Beautiful lens. Beautiful snowflakes. Going to take my grandson to make snowflakes at your link during the holidays. Sounds like fun!

    • profile image

      Lakota429 9 years ago

      Thanks so much for visiting my 'Snowmen & Christmas Tree Earrings' lens! Yours, too, is a 5 star! Beautiful crystals!!! Annie~

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      So much wonderful information about these wonderful little things. These were the miracles of my childhood in Iowa, the source of immagination, and the facts you gave don't change that at all.

      Thanks so very much *****

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 9 years ago

      I live in Maine where we have tons of snow in winter AND spring!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      I grew up in Minnesota but I live in South Carolina now. There are times when I really miss he snow.

      Great lens

      Lizzy

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      Simply love snowflakes! Only don't like cold! :) Great lens and it gave me another idea! Gotta write it down! :)

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • rebeccahiatt profile image

      rebeccahiatt 9 years ago

      Great lens, thanks for visiting my snowflake lens

    • profile image

      coopd 9 years ago

      Wow! Great lens. I didn't know there was so much to know about snowflakes. I really enjoyed! Thank you for joining my Nature Lovers group :)