The Beauty of Snowflakes

This winter, you might find in your mailbox envelopes adorned with the new Snowflakes stamps (which are designed for bulk mailers). The lovely stamps feature photographs of real snowflakes by scientist Kenneth Libbrecht.

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How did Libbrecht photograph these snowflakes?

With a little help from a mix of high- and low-tech equipment. Working outdoors, he used a paintbrush to transfer fallen snowflakes from a cardboard collecting surface to a glass slide that was inserted into a high-resolution microscope. He snapped his photographs with a digital camera attached to the microscope.

It sounds complicated, but Libbrecht explains that though expensive, it is possible to set up your own snowflake photography studio. If thats too much for you, you can still become an expert snowflake watcher this winter. All it takes it some optical gear, which Libbrecht describes on his website and, of course, snow. Watch this Snow Safari video to learn more about snowflake watching. Libbrechts snowflake gallerywill help identify the snowflakes you see.

Although the Snowflakes stamps are available only to bulk mailers, USPS has many other beautiful stamps for use at the holidays and throughout the year. Buy stamps at usps.com/stamps, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

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