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Thread started 05 Feb 2011 (Saturday) 18:21
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Unexplainable phenomenon in a snowflake: circles?

 
Don ­ Komarechka
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Feb 05, 2011 18:21 |  #1

This one I can't explain.

IMAGE: http://don.komarechka.com/images/plate-circle.jpg

Take a look at the center of this snowflake, and you'll see two near-perfect circles. I did not put these here, they exist in the RAW files. You can see a raw file from this focus stack to confirm this:
don.komarechka.com/ima​ges/_MG_3944.CR2 (external link)

Water creates hexagonal crystals, as far as I know this can't happen. I was using a ring flash for this shot, but these circles are unbroken - they would be semi-circles if they were caused by the flash.

I am no physicist, but this phenomenon doesn't seem possible with my limited knowledge of such things. Can someone chime in with some more information?

Thanks!
- Don Komarechka

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LordV
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Feb 06, 2011 01:35 |  #2

Lovely capture - not certain but think the circles are caused by partial melting of the snowflake - Often see circles on the surface of frozen dewdops.
Funnily enough- looks like it would make an interesting watch design :) - looks rather like a watch as is.
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Miki ­ G
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Feb 06, 2011 04:31 |  #3

I'm not a physicist either, so cannot give a proper answer to your question. There are so many variables in the formation of snowflakes, which is why, no two are exactly the same.Wind, elevation, temperature, rate of acceleration etc. I think that, as the water rose during evaporation, it may have formed (or partily formed) into hail. It may have started as the smaller circle, and as it got higher re-formed as the bigger circle. As it falls back to Earth, these will begin to melt & if cold enough, the snow crystal would form around it.

I am probably completely wrong, but I am happy with my take on it. Or it could just be Mother nature's Copyright mark.:D Great shot BTW;)




  
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canonloader
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Feb 06, 2011 04:59 |  #4

This looks like a light artifact from something inside the lens or mirror box, a reflection off the sensor filter, onto the rear element of the lens and back. Look at the 'clock hand' at 2 o'clock. Both circles go over the dark shadow line of the hand itself. You can see other places around the circles where the same thing happens. Also, the distance between the two circles is smaller at 2 o'clock than at other places.

I also like the copyright mark idea. :)


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orionmystery
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Feb 06, 2011 07:31 |  #5

Very nice shot!


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PicSniper
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Feb 06, 2011 07:54 |  #6

Could it be that alien crop circles have now begun to manifest themselves into snowflakes? :lol:

Seriously, though, what an amazing shot! Thank you for sharing!


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Don ­ Komarechka
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Feb 06, 2011 10:11 |  #7

Thank you all for the great responses so far!

LordV, I have seen circles on the surface of frozen dew drops as well, but I assume there is a relation to the spherical nature of a dew drop to begin with. AN interesting comparison that I hadn't considered before! Here is an example of what he is talking about:

IMAGE: http://don.komarechka.com/images/_MG_8416_potn.jpg

Miki G, if hail were possible on this day it would have been readily noticeable - however the temperature was too cold for this to occur, it was just about -15C this day. Also, hail stones are not nearly symmetrical enough to create this by chance.

Canonloader, the possibility of this is slim, as I have never seen it before and due to the extremely shallow depth of field in these images, such reflections would not be consistently in focus with the surface of the snowflake.

Another note, the circles fade in and out of focus just as the surface of the snowflake does from shot to shot, indicating that it is on or very near the surface of the snowflake itself. Someone has suggested the possibility of newton rings being the cause, but the lack of colours and symmetry challenges this as well.

Maybe crop circles on snowflakes is the best answer? :)

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Kedleson
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Feb 06, 2011 11:06 |  #8

All of the above explanations sound good to me...science was never my best subject. One thing's for sure, though....great and interesting photo and this photo keeps the eye interested way more than the usual ten seconds!


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Feb 06, 2011 15:52 |  #9

Just found another snowflake picture with a circle in the center. Maybe they aren't that rare. Look here, third image down (external link). Also see the two above, they are pretty neat.


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Don ­ Komarechka
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Feb 07, 2011 07:53 |  #10

Interesting find! It feels more like the "blobs" near the center of my photo above, however. Just someone more circular by chance.

Cool photos though - those are microscope shots of snowflakes, where mine are all free-hand shots with the MP-E 65mm lens. This lets me take photos on a slight angle to create surface reflection. :)


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Don ­ Komarechka
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Feb 07, 2011 10:56 |  #11

I just received an e-mail from an expert on the subject, Kenneth Libbrecht. He runs the snowcrystals.com website and pointed me to a few photos of his own (#2 and #4 on this page: http://www.its.caltech​.edu …rystals/photos/​photos.htm (external link) ).

He states "I think these rings are caused by inward growth of raised features on the crystals."

Mystery solved. :)


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dixiefried
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Feb 07, 2011 20:22 as a reply to  @ Don Komarechka's post |  #12

http://www.its.caltech​.edu …rystals/photos/​photos.htm (external link)

Website with everything there is to know about snowflakes

As for the circles....I too think it has something to do with the melting/freezing process. Let us remember that the geometric shape that has the smallest ratio of surface area to volume is the sphere, so very small quantities of liquids tend to form spherical drops. Also think of the effect of "wetting" and how it would make liquid water want to join with a surface with which it is compatible, i.e. ice. This would cause the sphere to flatten into a circle. ::shrugs:: Who knows....maybe it has something to do with crystal faceting starting out as a circle and growing into a snowflake.




  
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Unexplainable phenomenon in a snowflake: circles?
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