How Do Crystals Grow?
ES0506  Snowflakes
NOAA Photo Library
Wilson Bentley, a Vermont farmer, took photographs of snowflakes under a microscope as a hobby. These photographs were published in the "Monthly Weather Review" in 1902.

Crystals are some of the most beautiful and fascinating objects around. Their symmetry and highly reflective faces are so perfect, it is sometimes hard to believe that they are the products of natural processes.

Snowflakes are just one example of common crystals. Those shown here are all nearly the same size, but crystals actually start out small and increase in size. Consider how each of these snowflake crystals might grow from a small grain into the distinctive shapes shown here.

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