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January 03

Wilson Bentley snowflakes By Wilson Bentley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Science Fact

Six-Sided Snowflakes

Did you know that most snowflakes have six sides? But check out a lot of snowflakes in artwork and you'll find that designers have taken liberties -- and often incorrectly represent snowflakes with eight sides.

Because snowflakes are crystals of ice -- and because ice is water -- they can only fit together in certain ways. Temperature and humidity dictate the exact way the pattern comes out, but each snow crystal has a six-cornered symmetry, which follows a water molecule's makeup.

Occasionally, a snowflake might have either three or twelves sides -- half or double the normal six -- but even those are rare.

To learn more about snow, check out the following Science NetLinks resources:


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