24 Dec Track Santa, Courtesy of NORAD
Since 1955 NORAD (and its predecessor CONAD) has tracked Santa’s each Christmas Eve and has answered questions for boys and girls about his progress. NORAD’s Santa tracking service uses interactive maps updated every few minutes at http://www.noradsanta.org. As Santa stops in each location, you can click an icon to learn more about that part of the world. There are also links to update clips being posted on YouTube.
And you can also call NORAD and speak to someone there at 1-877-Hi-NORAD.
This year, there is also a 3D option using Google Earth.
The site includes lots of fun facts and theories about Santa, such as:
Santa maintains a long list of children who have been good throughout the year. His list gets bigger each year by virtue of the world’s increasing population. Check out the world’s population right now at http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html
As a result, Santa has had to deliver more toys in the same amount of time. If one were to assume he works in the realm of standard time, he would have to limit his stay to about two to three ten-thousandths of a second per home!
The fact that Santa Claus is more than 16 centuries old, yet does not appear to age, is our biggest clue that he does not work within time as we know it. His Christmas Eve trip may seem to take around 24 hours, but to Santa it may last days, weeks or even months in standard time. Santa would not want to rush the important job of distributing presents to children and spreading Christmas happiness everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa functions within a different time-space continuum than the rest of us do.
And, of course, Santa has a surveillance system that would make Dick Cheney green with envy.
NORAD also explains the science of tracking Santa:
NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets.
Tracking Santa starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. On Christmas Eve, NORAD monitors the radar continuously for indications that Santa Claus has left the North Pole.
The moment that radar indicates Santa has lifted off, we use our second detection system. Satellites positioned in geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles from the Earth’s surface are equipped with infrared sensors which enable them to detect heat. Amazingly, Rudolph’s bright red nose gives off an infrared signature which allow our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa.
The third tracking system is the Santa Cam network. We began using it in 1998, which is the year we put our Santa Tracking program on the internet. Santa Cams are ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many locations around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year on Christmas Eve. The cameras capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world.
The fourth system is made up of fighter jets. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or the F-16 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.
As I have explained to my children, though, no matter what the Santa tracker says regarding Santa’s current location, Santa will not actually enter a house until he knows the children are actually asleep…