Watch snowflakes sprout and grow

While we’re able to watch the mesmerising formation of snowflakes here in Vyacheslav Ivanov’s time-lapse video, the science behind this stunning phenomenon remains somewhat a mystery.  

When tiny droplets of water vapour condense on particles in the air, the vapour is transformed into a slow-growing crystal, which becomes a snowflake.

You’ll notice that as the flakes form, each arm of the six-pronged structures is generally symmetrical, a phenomenon known as six-fold radial symmetry.

While the initial steps of snowflake formation are pretty well established, tiny changes to environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity can completely change the way a snowflake looks.

Elaborate, branched snowflakes, like those seen in Ivanov’s video, grow in conditions of high humidity around -15 ºC, while column structures develop at around -6 ºC.

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