William Scoresby Snowflake History Color Book Illustrations

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Early Snowflakes

Color Book William Scoresby

scoresby flakes

English Explorer William Scoresby 1789 - 1857. English arctic explorer and scientist and clergyman. Author of "An Account of the Arctic Regions and Voyage to the Whale Fishery"

On his arctic voyage in 1807, Scoresby studied and recorded his findings of the meteorology and natural history of the polar region. To make his observations on snow and crystals, he probably used a small microscope hand fashioned out of ice, but exactly which type of microscope is unknown.

Enlarged Images Illustrated by William Scoresby

Teachers may use these images to teach children about William Scoresby, the history of snowflake exploration and to introduce snowflake science. Can you imagine how cold it must have been for him to have spent months on end in sub-zero climate drawing with pen and ink while peering at snow crystals through a hand crafted magnifier?

Such dedication to scientific exploration is nothing short of awe inspiring. In those days, no one knew what snow crystals looked like. The Chinese had deduced centuries before that snow crystals were hexagonal in shape but no one actually viewed a snowflake until the invention of the microscope.

Scoresby's illustrations were the first accurate visual descriptions of microscopic ice crystals. His meticulously intricate illustrated patterns of hundreds of crystals provided the first scientific glimpse of the unique symmetry and beauty of snowflakes.

William Scoresby was a captain of a whaling ship and an amateur scientist who surveyed the Arctic coasts of Greenland and Jan Mayan island. He enjoyed studying how ice and snowflakes formed under various weather conditions. He devoted 17 years of his life to the documentation of ice conditions in the Arctic.

On one voyage through the Arctic in 1820, he created detailed sketches of snow crystals. The large versions of William Scoresby's drawings in Paper Snowflakes web site are based upon those 1820 sketches, however, they are not all "100% exact" copies, however, because some of the Scoresby sketches weren't quite symmetrical and Snowflake couldn't resist fixing them.

You can see the original, scanned William Scoresby images among the Snowflake photographs in The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.