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The Bentley Collection DLESE Reviewed Collection
Wilson Alwyn Bentley (1865-1931), famous for his photomicrographs of snow crystals, prepared sets of glass lantern slides of dew, frost and ice crystals. He obtained thousands of photomicrographs of individual ice crystals over the course of his lifetime. Images in this collection are scanned from glass lantern slides. Most snow crystals found in nature will fit into one of these seven main categories: plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms. Because there are many variations within these categories which are not separately identified by the International Snow Classification the Bentley project uses the Magono and Lee (1966) snow crystal classification scheme. Each crystal is classified and searchable according to this scheme.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
  • College (15-16)
  • Graduate / Professional
Type of resource:
  • Visual:
    • Photograph
  • Text:
    • Ref. material
  • Atmospheric science
  • Cryology
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Wilson A. Bentley did not copyright his images because he wanted them to be freely used. They are in the public domain. This digital version of Bentley's photomicrographs is published by The Schwerdtfeger Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-004-440
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 9-12:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
        • Form and function
      • B - Physical science:
        • Structure and properties of matter
      • G - History and nature of science:
        • Historical perspectives
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Ms Jean M. Phillips
Schwerdtfeger Library, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison