Stunning Photos of Snowflakes and a Snow Flake Guide

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Last winter I went outside with my dogs at 11PM for the last pee-outing of the day. It was snowing, and cold, and I dreaded that I had to go out. BUT THEN…. as I was outside I noticed that the snow looked particularly sparkly. I bent down to take a closer look, and was astounded at billions upon billions of individual snowflake crystals  settling in layers upon the ground.  They were many different shapes….  many perfect and unique flakes were easy to see. (Lots of pictures below~!)

Where we live in Pennsylvania, we often get a winter that some folks sarcastically call “wimper”. We don’t always get to appreciate these stunningly perfect flakes. But, I found that each snow storm that came last winter, if I would put out my arm, I would see wonderful little flakes settle upon my sleeve. And…. on the ground even more so. It was so marvelous, I literally cried at God’s extravagance. More than we can possibly take in. Piles upon piles of these lovely crystals getting buried under more generally ignored beauty.

Well, it is snowing again, right now. I just went out and enjoyed more snowflakes. Please join me this winter, if you live in or visit a snowy region, in rejoicing in the glory and wonder of snowflakes.

Here is a guide I have copied from Cal tech, featuring macro lens photos by Kenneth Libbrecht and Alexey Kljatov,  so you can appreciate them a bit more:

Snow Flake Guide (from Cal Tech):

Stellar Plates
These common snowflakes are thin, plate-like crystals with six broad arms that form a star-like shape.  Their faces are often decorated with amazingly elaborate and symmetrical markings.stellar plate snowflake
9852597126_97a078c7f2_cstellar plate snowflake
Sectored Plates
Stellar plates often show distinctive ridges that point to the corners between adjacent prism facets.  When these ridges are especially prominent, the crystals are called sectored plates.Sectored Plates snowflake
Photograph by Alexey Kljatov (ChaoticMind75)
Stellar Dendrites
Dendritic means “tree-like”, so stellar dendrites are plate-like snow crystals that have branches and sidebranches.  These are fairly large crystals, typically 2-4 mm in diameter, that are easily seen with the naked eye.
Photograph by Alexey Kljatov (ChaoticMind75)Stellar Dendrites snowflakes
Fernlike Stellar Dendrites
Sometimes the branches of stellar crystals have so many sidebranches they look a bit like ferns, so we call them fernlike stellar dendrites.  These are the largest snow crystals, often falling to earth with diameters of 5 mm or more.  In spite of their large size, these are single crystals of ice — the water molecules are lined up from one end to the other.
Fernlike Stellar Dendrites Snowflakes
Hollow Columns
Hexagonal columns often form with conical hollow regions in their ends, and such forms are called hollow columns.  These crystals are small, so you need a good magnifier to see the hollow regions.Hollow Columns Snowflake
Hollow Columns Snowflakes
Capped Columns
These crystals first grow into stubby columns, and then they blow into a region of the clouds where the growth becomes plate-like.  The result is two thin, plate-like crystals growing on the ends of an ice column.  Capped columns don’t appear in every snowfall, but you can find them if you look for them.Capped Columns Snowflakes
Capped Columns Snowflakes
Double Plates
A double plate is basically a capped column with an especially short central column.  The plates are so close together that inevitably one grows out faster and shields the other from its source of water vapor.  The result is one large plate connected to a much smaller one.  These crystals are common — many snowflakes that look like ordinary stellar plates are actually double plates if you look closely.Double Plates Snowflakes
Double Plates SnowflakesDouble Plates Snowflakes
Simple Prisms
A hexagonal prism is the most basic snow crystal geometry (see the Snowflake Primer).  Depending on how fast the different facets grow, snow crystal prisms can appear as thin hexagonal plates, slender hexagonal columns (shaped a lot like wooden pencils), or anything in between.  Simple prisms are usually so small they can barely be seen with the naked eye.
Photograph by Alexey Kljatov (ChaoticMind75)Simple Prism SnowflakeSimple Prism Snowflake
Triangular Crystals
Plates sometimes grow as truncated triangles when the temperature is near -2 C (28 F).  If the corners of the plates sprout arms, the result is an odd version of a stellar plate crystal.  These crystals are relatively rare.
Triangular Crystal Snowflakes
Triangular Crystal Snowflakes
Bullet Rosettes
The nucleation of an ice grain sometimes yields multiple crystals all growing together at random orientations.  When the different pieces grow into columns, the result is called a bullet rosette.  These polycrystals often break up to leave isolated bullet-shaped crystals.
Bullet Rosette Snowflakes
12-Sided Snowflakes
Sometimes capped columns form with a twist, a 30-degree twist to be specific.  The two end-plates are both six-branched crystals, but one is rotated 30 degrees relative to the other.  This is a form of crystaltwinning, in which two crystals grow joined in a specific orientation.
2-Sided Snowflakes
2-Sided Snowflakes2-Sided Snowflakes

SNOWFLAKE CHART:snow chart - types of snow

Sources:
The photographer of many of these snowflakes, Kenneth Libbrecht, has written a field guide to snowflakes, and has printed other books, too.  Here is a link to the books~!
Here is a link to the snowflake guide page, too. You’d want to visit this site and consider buying the guide books, since there are sooo many more flakes I did not include. You can also see how blobby and ugly artificial snow looks. God does a much better job of making snow~!
The other photographer, Alexey Kljatov (aka ChaoticMind75) is an artist and photographer from Moscow, Russia. In an ongoing series entitled Snowflakes and snow crystals, Alexey takes macro shots of natural snowflakes from right outside of his house. I have used the TwistedSifter Blog post as a resource for the photos by Alexey. Link to Twisted Sifter here.
PLEASE TELL ME SOME SNOWFLAKE STORIES in the comments section~!~!
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