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Hands On Mineral Identification helps you to identify over 14,500 minerals! By M. Darby Dyar, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.

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How Far Away Is The Thunderstorm?

It takes 3 seconds for sound to travel 1 kilometer (5 seconds to travel 1 mile). The next time a thunderstorm comes your way, look out your bedroom window and watch for lightning. When you see a lightning flash count the number of seconds until you hear thunder. Use the above calculation to figure out how far away the thunderstorm is.

Example: You see lightning flash across the sky. 15 seconds later you hear thunder. How far away was the lightning bolt?


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The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA