Weather Fundamentals

Early Weather History

Who first correctly wrote about the structure of snowflakes

This honor goes to Han Ying, a Han Dynasty scholar who published Moral Discourses Illustrating the Han Text of the Book of Songs in 135 B.C.E. Han correctly described how snowflakes always take on a hexagonal form of some kind (unless the flakes are broken), even though this six-sided fundamental structure has incredible variety. The Western scientific world would not get this right until the seventeenth century, when German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) published A New Year’s Gift; or, On the Six-Cornered Snowflake in 1611. English mathematician and astronomer Thomas Harriot (c. 1560–1621) actually correctly described snowflakes’ hexagonal form in 1591, but this description was not made public.


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