1) Snow is not white

Mind blown. You can certainly dream of a white Christmas, even if it isn’t strictly accurate. As any good snow pedant will tell you, the ‘white stuff’ isn’t actually white, but rather translucent. It’s the light reflecting off it that makes it appear white with the many sides of the snowflake scattering light in many directions, diffusing the entire colour spectrum. Snow can also appear in a wide variety of spectacular hues. Dust, pollution or cold-loving (cryophilic) fresh-water algae can colour it black, orange or blue. Pink or ‘watermelon snow’, caused by algae containing astaxanthin, a chemical similar to the one found in carrots, was mentioned in the early writings of Aristotle.

2) Grown from a nucleus

Snowflakes or snow crystals don’t have nuclei in the traditional, biological way (that contains genetic information), but they all do form around one single particle whether that’s a speck of dust or a piece of pollen. This makes it completely different from sleet (which consists of frozen raindrops) or hail (which is sleet droplets that collect water as they fall). This original piece of material that formed the flake can be detected using a powerful microscope.

3) Snow affects sound

Freshly fallen snow absorbs sound waves, giving everything a seemingly hushed, quieter ambience after a flurry. But if the snow then melts and refreezes, the ice can reflect sound waves making sound travel further and clearer.

4) Snow on Mars

According to Nasa’s scientific simulations (corroborated by remote robots on the planet’s surface), during the summer in the north of Mars there may well be sudden, violent snow storms. We know there are clouds and subsurface ice on Mars, so snow is certainly plausible. Scientists also detected a cloud of carbon dioxide snowflakes over the southern pole of the planet.

5) Monkeys love it

Don’t think for a second we are the only mammals to enjoy a good snowball fight. Japanese macaques, also know as ‘snow monkeys’ have been observed making and playing with balls of snow. Young macaques appear to enjoy stealing each others snowballs, then battling to retrieve them.

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