Hexagonal Plate Snow Crystal With Sector-like Extensions

December 25, 2015


Photographer: Wilson Bentley
Summary Author: Jim Foster December 2015 Viewer's Choice

Shown above is a micrograph of a hexagonal plate snow crystal photographed soon after it fell by Wilson Bentley (1865-1931). This intricate crystal, as well as hundreds of others, is part of the snow crystal collection of the Schwerdtfeger Library in Madison, Wisconsin. Six-sided snow crystals result from the six-fold symmetry of the ice crystal lattice. According to the Lee/Magono snow crystal classification system, the specimen above is a plate crystal with sector-like extensions (P2f).

Here's what Wilson Bentley said about the structure of a snow crystal. 

"A careful study of this internal structure not only reveals new and far greater elegance of form than the simple outlines exhibit, but by means of these wonderfully delicate and exquisite figures much may be learned of the history of each crystal, and the changes through which it has passed in its journey through cloudland. Was ever life history written in more dainty hieroglyphics!" 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Staff of the Earth Science Picture of the Day

 Erin Senoz, Stu Witmer, Jim Foster