All the snowflakes

The University of Utah has released news that might be really cool, or really terrible, depending on how badly you want every possible speck of magic in winter to stay exactly the way you imagined it when you were young.  They put out a press release today about the findings that they recieved when they left a high-speed camera system running outside for two years.[1. This description oversimplifies to the point of obscuring the truth.  Please read the actual article if you're interested in a more accurate description of the mechanism by which they took the photos.]

Snowflakes in traditional photographs "tend to be of a particular type that conveniently lies flat on a microscope slide, where a camera can get them perfectly in focus, and the photographer can take the time to get the light exactly right," he says.

"These perfectly symmetric, six-sided snowflakes, while beautiful, are exceedingly rare – perhaps one-in-a-thousand at the most," says Garrett. "Snow is almost never a single, simple crystal. Rather, a snowflake might experience 'riming,' where perhaps millions of water droplets collide with a snowflake and freeze on its surface. This makes a little ice pellet known as 'graupel.' Or snowflakes collide with other snowflakes to make something fluffier, called an aggregate. And everything is possible in between."

Here's one of the (still really beautiful) pictures of some more common snowflakes.