The beauty of a snowflake
On a snowy day, enjoying the precipitation in your backyard, let a few snow fractals settle on your hand. If you examine them closely, you might observe that no two snowflakes are of the same shape.
A snowflake is formed when an extremely cold water droplet condenses onto dust or pollen grain, creating an icy crystal. Owing to water’s molecular structure, this crystal arranges itself to satisfy the internal symmetrical order of a water molecule forming a 6-sided or hexagonal shape.
The exclusiveness of snowflakes results from the atmospheric conditions under which it falls towards the ground. Humidity, temperature and the direction of fall towards the ground are among the main factors that determine the shape of a snowflake while maintaining a 6-sided orientation. For example, needle-like crystals appear when temperatures are -5° C and flat plate-like crystals can be seen at -15° C.
Just like fingertips, there are no identical snowflakes. Though being the same at an atomic level, a broad categorization of basic snowflakes can be found in the book “The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty”. There are eight general categories in which these can be classified: stellar dendrites, spatial dendrites, hollow columns, sectored plates, needles, rimed crystals, capped columns and irregulars.
Snowflake Photographs - SnowCrystals.com
This page shows photographs of real snowflakes that fell from the winter clouds. Click on any image for a closer look…
The beautiful mystery that no two snowflakes are identical still exists, and scientists are trying to find a solution to this. While we wait for the answers, let’s enjoy these tiny intricate beauties of nature falling from the sky.