Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Snowflake Man

Wilson Bentley documented that no two flakes are alike.

The Snowflake Man


"Every snowflake has an infinite beauty which is enhanced by knowledge that the investigator will, in all probability, never find another exactly like it."

It is common knowledge that no two snowflakes are alike (a researcher's frivolous challenge to that concept in the 1980s notwithstanding), but how do we know?

The most-persuasive evidence came from a humble, home-schooled Vermont farmer named Wilson Bentley, the author of the quotation cited above.

Using a primitive apparatus that included a camera and microscope, in 1885 he became the first to take a photograph of a single snow crystal.

He would end up photographing thousands of them on the family property in Jericho, a short drive from the sprawl now surrounding Burlington.

Some of those stunning photos are on display at the magnificent "Old Red Mill" building, one of Vermont's aesthetic treasures, in Jericho.

When we visited the exhibit during the weekend, the muted-red building was hosting a dramatic harvest of icicles.

Bentley obviously was in the right place for the raw material. While Burlington had a few inches of snow on the ground after a light Friday night snowfall; a foot or more covered Jericho. 

You can learn more about Bentley and see some of his photographs at the Jericho Historical Society site.

And you can't beat the price. It's free.



Inquirer Weather Columnist
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter