Hexagonal Plate Snow Crystal

December 25, 2019


Photographer: Wilson Bentley (Schwerdtfeger Library
Summary Author: Jim Foster 

This intricate snow crystal is one of the thousands of snow crystals in the collection of Wilson Bentley (Snowflake Bentley) at the Schwerdtfeger Library. It’s classified as a simple hexagonal plate crystal (P1a), according to the Lee/Magano system. The six-sided shape we see in these crystals results from the six-fold symmetry of the ice crystal lattice. When rotated by 1/6 (60 degrees or 1/6 of a circle), each crystal looks nearly identical. Note that even the amoeba-like structure at the very center of this crystal is 6-sided. As snow crystals fall through the lower atmosphere, they’ll continue to grow as long as water molecules are deposited on their surfaces.

Wishing you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Peace in the New Year,
Erin Senoz, Stu Witmer, Jim Foster