- Holidays and Celebrations
Beautiful Snowflakes and Snow Crystals
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.
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.