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Magic Lantern reveals mysteries of snowflakes

| November 15, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The Coeur d'Alene Public Library will host a Magic Lantern Show Wednesday at 7 p.m. with a program that will feature the world of snowflake crystals.

The program - in the Community Room at 702 E. Front Ave. - will be presented by Shel Izen using his vintage lantern projector and antique slides from the Wilson A. Bentley collection of crystals.

Izen explains that Bentley was the son of Vermont farmers in the late 19th century. His mother had been a schoolteacher, and when Bentley was 15 he was given an old microscope left over from her teaching years. He began then to explore his world close-up, and discovered the beauty of snow crystals.

Bentley tried to sketch what he saw under the microscope, but was not pleased with the results. In 1884 his father bought him a $100 Eastman Kodak Bellows camera for his son - a major investment in those days. Bentley attached a microscope to the end of his camera, and through much trial and error in 1885 he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. He photographed over 5,000 snow crystals in his lifetime.

It is because of Bentley's work that the phrase "No two snowflakes are alike" became the accepted wisdom. He also photographed clouds, ice, raindrops, window frost, dew and landscapes.

This program is made possible through a grant from the Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Public Library.

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