Christmas Crystal

December 25, 2002


Provided by: Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

The above image, taken from a scanning electron microscope, shows details of a stellar type snow crystal. It appears to be made up of 2 three-sided crystals, but actually it's a single hexagonal crystal. Some of the intricacies of the "upper" portion of the crystal are missing, probably because this crystal has already begun to metamorphose or age. Even after only a few minutes on the ground, snow crystals begin to change their appearance as edges and protuberances are broken off or worn away as a result of rubbing against other crystals and changes in humidity and temperature.


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