by Eva Amsen

snowflakeIt’s almost officially winter on the Northern Hemisphere. Time for some snow science!
And where better to look for information on snowflakes than… Southern California.
Kenneth Libbrecht, professor of Physics at Caltech, is an expert on snowflakes. He runs, which is a wonderful resource on the science behind snowflakes and snow crystals.

The snowflake primer page is the place to start learning about the properties of snowflakes, such as the hexagonal structure or the different types of crystals.

Another section of the website shows how to make your own snow crystals using styrofoam cups, dry ice, and a coke bottle.
If you’re not that ambitious, at least watch the animations of the growing of lab-controlled snow crystals or have a look at the beautiful photo collection.

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Shelley December 17, 2005 - 10:25 PM

I don’t get how that works. It’s ‘almost offically winter’ up there yet we’ve been having summer for about a month? It gets hot in November and ‘officially’ starts on 1st December. The weather kicks up another notch and gets uber hot in late Jan but this is still definitely summer (my nose peeled a little today *pout*). Does our summer go longer at the other end also? (ends about March, generally early in the month). Why isn’t it winter there yet when it’s already snowing? How cold does it have to get to be winter? Am I lots further south than you are north or is it just different up there?

Snowflakes are the least of my worries 🙁

Eva December 18, 2005 - 12:47 AM

I’ve always gone by the 21st as the “official” date (announced as “official start of ____” (season) on calendars and tv) but the meterological start is the first of December in the Northern hemisphere according to this. And the 21st can also be MID-winter.

Shelley December 18, 2005 - 5:08 PM

I’ve also read something anbout how our weather keeps getting warmer after the equinox (which should be mid summer but isn’t even close) because of sea currents and stuff. So I think our island-ness changes things too.

Plus, to make it more complicated, summer is slipping anyway. February is the hottest/best month now and all the kids are back at school already. Christmas used to be a good summer break time but now it’s too early, still stormy and sometimes cold. Weird weather.

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