Polarised light micrograph of a snow crystal

Polarised light micrograph of a snow crystal

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Credit: J.C. REVY, ISM/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Polarised light micrograph of a snow crystal. Snow crystals exhibit a characteristic general hexagonal symmetry. The structure of frozen water molecules means that an hexagonal lattice is the only stable crystalline form. The lack of perfect symmetry seen in this crystal arises when snow falls in temperatures just above freezing, causing partial melting. A perfect snow crystal would be a regular hexagon, but a variety of meteorological factors lead to imperfections, causing beautiful branching shapes. As no two snow crystals are subjected to exactly the same conditions, no two form identical shapes. Magnification x31 at 35mm size.

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Keywords: climate, cold, crystal, frozen, hexagon, meteorology, snow, snow crystal, snowflake, weather, winter

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