It's hard to believe these aren't man-made structures.
But they're not: all these photographs by Russian photographer Andrew Osokin are of snowflakes.
They were taken with a macro lens, revealing the intricate details and structures of the flakes.
If you've ever wondered how snowflakes form into such complex shapes, here's a little science lesson, courtesy the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
It all starts when a very cold water droplet freezes onto a particle of dust or pollen in the sky. This creates an ice crystal, which is falling toward the Earth.
As it falls, it picks up more water vapour, which freezes onto the original crystal, creating new crystals - the six arms of the snowflake.
And you may have heard that "no two snowflakes are alike." Turns out there's a scientific explanation for that too: the flakes are formed during the fall to Earth, and each one forms differently since it traces a different path from all the others.
As for why they form into symmetrical patterns? That's a little more complex:
"The ice crystals that make up snowflakes are symmetrical (or patterned) because they reflect the internal order of the crystal's water molecules as they arrange themselves in predetermined spaces (known as "crystallization") to form a six-sided snowflake."
All right, it may be a little tough to understand all the intricacies of the process. But with pics like these, it's easy to enjoy the results.
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