Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley

Timeline created by jlf704
  • Birth

    Jericho, Vermont - 'Heart of the snowbelt"
  • His Home

    Jericho, Vermont is in the Northeast United States, between Lake Champlain and Mount Mansfield where the annual snowfall is about 120 inches. That is 10 feet of snow!
  • Childhood

    He studied all types of moisture, kept a record of the weather, and did many experiments with rain drops.
  • Education

    Bentley's Mom home schooled him until he was 14 years old. He read his mom's whole set of encyclopedias and loved to learn.
  • Fifteenth Birthday

    Fifteenth Birthday
    Hs mom gave him his first microscope which he used to try to make hundreds of detailed drawings of snow crystals each year for three winters straight. The snow melted too fast, so he became frustrated and decided to try photography.
  • New Technology

    New Technology
    Wilson read about a camera with its own microscope
  • The Camera

    The Camera
    His mother knew Wilson would not be happy until he had this camera, so she finally talked his father into buying it for him. Wilson was 17 years old when his parents spent their live savings on the camera for him. The camera made images on large glass negatives and had a microscope that could magnify a tiny crystal from 64 to 3,600 times its actual size.
  • His Findings from his Drawings

    Most snow crystals had six branches (a few had three) and for each snowflake the six branches were alike. "I found that snowflakes were masterpieces of design. No one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted...just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind." -Wilson Bentley
  • Experiment

    Used a very small lens opening which lets a small amount of light reach the negative. He kept the lens open for up to a minute and a half. He used a sharp knife to cut away the dark parts of the negative around the crystals, so that the crystals showed up more clearly. This meant extra hours of work for each snowflake.
  • Documentation

    Sample of his notebook He kept notebooks in which he wrote his observations, thoughts, and findings. "My first few years of snow study were taken up with studying and making some hundreds of drawings of them. But these were most unsatisfactory, and the popularization of dry plate photography called my attention to this method of securing exact, true, and permanent representations of them." -Wilson Bentley
  • Conclusion from Experiment

    Each snowflake begins as a speck, then molecules of water attach to the speck to form its branches. As the crystal grows, the branches get closer together and trap air. Things that affect the way crystal branches grow: cold, wind, and moisture. These factors create different shaped branches.
  • His Photographs

    His Photographs
    Inspiration for artists and designers.
    Colleges and universities bought lantern slide copies of his photographs.
    Wilson Bentley spent $15,000 on his work.
    Received $4,000 from the sale of photographs and slides.
  • Death

    After his death, the people of Jericho, Vermont made a monument and museum about him.
  • Record Snowfall

    U.S. Cities Average Snowfall On this day, 40 inches of snow fell in Jericho, Vermont.