Kenneth Libbrecht
Snow Crystal II, 2004

Photomicrograph; direct digital capture

California Institute of Technology, Physics Department, Pasadena, California, United States

TThis photomicrograph reveals a natural snow crystal that fell to earth in Burlington, Vermont, measuring just over 3 mm (0.12 inches) from tip-to-tip. Snow crystals grow into a wide variety of shapes, ranging from thin, plate-like crystals to slender hexagonal columns (the same basic shape as wooden pencils), depending mainly on the temperature in which they grow. If a crystal experiences a range of temperatures as it falls, it may grow into a column capped with two plates, or into a thick plate made of several ice layers. If you look carefully, you can see four distinct layers in this snow crystal.

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