Snow crystal (d-050315-103)

In gallery: Photos of the month (2005)
Related photos: Miscellaneous Ice & frost Snow crystals

The statement "no two snow crystals are the same" is indeed true. Although a pair may look very similar, the chances of two crystals having exactly the same shape is practically zero. A snow crystal forms high up in the atmosphere as an embryo crystal. Depending on temperature and humidity, the crystal forms either dendrites or sectored plates. Since the temperature and humidity are always changing for the falling crystal, this variation gives it its unique shape. The crystal in the photo started as a dendritic crystal, developing plates later in its life. Note that the upper right branch does not lie exactly in line with the opposite branch. The white and irregular pieces near the tips of the branches are rimed cloud droplets and other crystals. This crystal was approximately 5 mm in size.

Photographed at magnification ratio of about 2.5 with 50mm prime focal lens attached to bellows, using a Canon EOS-300d (Digital Rebel), in the Magdalena Mountains, New Mexico (USA)