The Art of the Snowflake (Kenneth Libbrecht)

As kids we were all told snowflakes were six-sided crystals and no two were alike. Most of us even made paper cutouts or drew snowflakes for winter school projects. But how often have we had the chance to actually see six points on a real snowflake? I lucked out just last month as they fell on my black wool coat. They were tiny, but clearly in their six-sided glory.

Kenneth Libbrecht has certainly seen his share of snowflakes. The California physics professor uses what he calls a traveling snowflake photomicroscope to capture images of the crystals fresh from the sky. He’s published a trio of books with amazing full-color closeup photographs. I used to think some of my classmates snowflake cutouts had a bit too much embellishment, but even they were not as complex as most of these beauties plucked from nature.

The Art of the Snowflake [LibraryThing / WorldCat], published in large format, lets you see the snowflakes with a clarity you have probably never seen before. Many of the same photos are packed into a smaller package called The Little Book of Snowflakes [LibraryThing / WorldCat]. Both volumes are almost exclusively photographs with minimal descriptive text. The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty [LibraryThing / WorldCat] has much more text, and gives the reader a better idea how these amazing snow crystals come about.  You might also enjoy visiting Libbrecht’s website.

By the way: The covers show what look like detailed drawings. Nope. Just some of the physicist’s remarkable photos.

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