Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes is the fourth of five books written by Caltech's Kenneth Libbrecht. I had not know about this volume until I received his most recent book The Art of the Snowflake in late 2007. I would be repeating myself here by again singing my words of praise for Libbrecht's series of popular books on the snowflake. I have enjoyed each, revelling in the beauty of the snowflake photographs presented to us by Libbrecht. While yet not surpassing the number of images bequeathed to us in Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley's pioneering book Snow Crystals, Libbrecht's photos are unsurpassed in beauty by the color imparted by the lighting of the snowflakes and in their crisp details that are not as evident in Bentley's works. It also far surpasses the only other true field guide to snow that I know of: Edward R. LaChapelle's 1969 guide: Field Guide to Snow Crystals.
In Field Guide to Snowflakes, Libbrecht gives those of us who wish to explore the world of snowflakes in their element the perfect volume to look closely at those fugitive flakes. To those who only wish to learn more about the microstructure of these snow crystals, this book goes far beyond his first book: The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty in describing the physics behind snowflake formation.
In the first part of Field Guide to Snowflakes, the author provides an understandable discussion of the physics of the formation of snowflakes. In Part II, he expands on the previous discussion by looking into the detailed formation of each of twenty-one general classes of snow crystals. The photomicrographs in this section delve deep into the intricacies of crystal features with superb detail. The final part gives us tips for taking our own field trips into the world of snow crystals.
Overall, Field Guide to Snowflakes is the perfect scientific counterpart to Libbrecht's 2007 book, The Art of the Snowflake, which is an artistic delight. If you do not have The Art of the Snowflake, I would purchase the two as a combination set. If you have none of Libbrecht's works, add his first book: The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty to your shopping cart.
Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes
by Kenneth Libbrecht, Voyageur Press; 2006, ISBN: 0760326452, Hardcover, 112 pages.