December 25, 2001
Kind of like a sampler of chocolates you might get for Christmas, here's an assortment of snow crystals. They were photographed using an electron scanning microscope at the Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. The images are made by electrons that pass through a magnetic field that serves as a lens. The above image shows examples of stellar dendrites and hexagonal plate crystals, which has been magnified several hundred times.
Crystal shapes and sizes give scientists an idea under what conditions they formed, and snow research using electron microscope technology allows scientists to better understand the crystalline structure of snow and processes leading to crystal formation. Aside from the science, lots of people just enjoy seeing it snow, or at least, looking at decorative snowflakes.