Showing posts with label Lightning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lightning. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Heat Lightning

We just learned about thunder snow.

There is also something interesting called heat lightning.

Sometimes when you are out in the evening on a hot sunny day, you can see lightning flashes from very far away but you don't hear any thunder.

There actually is some thuder for the lightning, but since the skies are clear you can see very far and the sound of the thunder doesn't reach that far.

(from: wikipedia - heat lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Calcium

Thursday, August 13, 2015


We always think of thunder coming with lightning in a rain storm.

But thunder can even happen during snow!

One big difference between regular thunder and thundersnow is that the snowflakes falling down make the thunder quieter, so you can't hear the thunder noise from as far away.

The snowflakes are like padding that gets in the way of the sound and keeps it from going very far.

(from: wikipedia - thundersnow)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Magnesium

Thursday, August 6, 2015


We know that lightning coming down from the sky is really hot, and that it is excited electrons zapping down as plasma.

The change in temperature and pressure as the lightning is zapping the ground causes the air around it to get pushed out really really fast.
That pushing of all the air around it creates what is called a shockwave that makes a huge sound which is the thunder we hear.

(from: wikipedia - thunder)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Obsidian

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lightning Rod

Sometimes when people want to protect buildings from getting hit by lightning, they will put a tall metal pole on the top of their building, connected to metal all the way down to the ground.

Lightning electricity goes after the tallest and most conductive thing to strike, so it will hit the lightning rod and go straight through to the ground and not hurt the building.

(from: wikipedia - lightning rod)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Silicon

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lightning Strikes - Trees

When lightning strikes, it looks for the tallest things around to zap.

Trees get hit by lightning a lot, and sometimes having tall trees around a house can keep it from getting hit by lightning.

The gooey stuff inside of a tree is called sap. Some trees like maple trees make enough sap to make syrup that you can use on pancakes.

When a tree gets struck by lightning, that sap gets so hot that it turns into steam, and the steam blows out of the tree and blows off the bark on the outside of the tree.

(from: wikipedia - lightning strike)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Silver

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lightning Plasma

Remember that the four types of matter on our planet are solid, liquid, gas and plasma.
And plasma is like a gas that is really excited and full of energy.

When lightning discharges, the temperature changes very quickly as the lightning energy zaps to the ground in an energy filled plasma.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Gold

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lightning - Re-strike

We just learned that when the lightning electricity zaps down or discharges it's called the Return Stroke.

Most of the time when lightning zaps down in a lightning strike it is not just one zap, it is anywhere from 3 to 30!
The flashes are so fast sometimes it looks like a flashing strobe light.

After the first return stroke, the other zaps are called re-strikes.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Mercury

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lightning - Return Stroke

When the lightning leaders attach, the lightning zaps down in something called a discharge, and the discharge is called a return stroke.

The electrons all come zapping down from the cloud, and it has about 30,000 amps!
The current in amps that comes from a regular plug in the wall is about 20 amps, so a lightning strike is like 1,500 plugs!

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Copper

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lightning Attachment

We've learned about lightning downward leaders and upward streamers.

When the downward and upward touch together, that's called attachment.

When they attach, the electricity goes all the way from the cloud, through the downward leader, through the upward streamer, and into the ground.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Lead

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lightning Upward Streamers

We've learned about negative charged lightning leaders, and how they are ionized gases going down toward the ground looking to zap something.

Sometimes there are positive charges on the ground that are going up looking to get zapped.
These are called upward streamers or upward leaders.

If there is a positive charge on the ground, it will reach out from the tallest points, either a tall building or a tree top, reaching up to the downward leaders.
If the two connect, there is a huge lightning zap!

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Sodium

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lightning Leaders

When a cloud is all full of energy and ready to zap the ground with some electricity and make Cloud to Ground Lightning, it starts shooting out things that are called leaders.

We learned before about the tiny particles called atoms, and we learned that they can have extra positive or extra negative energy, called Ions.
When all the little tiny atoms in the cloud get charged up, or ionized with energy, the negative and positive ionized gases in the cloud go in different directions.

The negative ionized gas starts moving down toward the ground, and the positive ionized gas moves up toward the sky.

These negative ionized gases moving down are the leaders.
They all get kind of crazy and go in different directions, they zig zag and split into different parts called branches as they move toward the ground.

When they get to the ground, all those crazy ions turn into a huge bolt of electricity and zap the ground.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Aluminum

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cloud to Ground Lightning

We learned about cloud to cloud and intra-cloud lightning.

The other type of lightning that we all know about is called Cloud to Ground lightning, sometimes just called CG lightning.

Electric charges build up in clouds, usually between tiny ice crystals and tiny water droplets that smash into each other.
When this happens to a whole bunch of them at once there is a lot of electricity that needs to go somewhere, so it zaps all the way down to the ground.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Iron

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cloud to Cloud Lightning

When we think of lightning, we usually think of the big bright flashes coming from the cloud.
But sometimes lightning doesn't come down to the ground, it just goes to another cloud.

That is called Cloud to Cloud lightning, or sometimes if it's just inside the same cloud it's called intra-cloud lightning.
Sometimes people just use the letters CC for cloud to cloud, or IC for intra-cloud.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Graphite

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Lightning is the big flash of light that we see in the sky when some static electricity in a cloud builds up and then zaps either another cloud or the ground.

We only see lightning in our area when there is a storm, but every second of every day there is a storm somewhere on planet earth.
If you could look at the whole planet earth all at once and count every single lightning, you would count about 1,400,000,000 (1.4 billion) flashes per year!
Lightning happens over 40 times every second on earth. Not all in one place, but spread out across the world.

(from: wikipedia - lightning)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Diamond