A fun activity for kids, parents, and really people of all ages! On Christmas eve, hit up the NORAD website and track Santa as he delivers gifts around the world! I used to do this as a kid… and not gonna lie, I still check this website out every Christmas eve!
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has been tracking Santa every Christmas since 1958 using state of the art technology:
HOW WE TRACK SANTA
It all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across Canada’s North and Alaska. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole every holiday season. The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing air warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America.
These satellites are located in a geo-synchronous orbit (that’s a cool phrase meaning that the satellite is always fixed over the same spot on the Earth) at 22,300 miles above the Earth. The satellites have infrared sensors, meaning they can see heat. When a rocket or missile is launched, a tremendous amount of heat is produced – enough for the satellites to see them. Rudolph’s nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites detect Rudolph’s bright red nose with no problem.
The third system we use is the SantaCam. We began using it in 1998 – the year we put our Santa Tracking program on the Internet. NORAD SantaCams are ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many places around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year – on 24 December. We turn the cameras on about one hour before Santa enters a country then switch them off after we capture images of him and the Reindeer. We immediately download the images onto our web site for people around the world to see. SantaCams produce both video and still images.
The last system we use is the NORAD jet fighter. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots, flying the CF-18, take off out of Newfoundland and welcome Santa to North America. Then at numerous locations in Canada other CF-18 fighter pilots escort Santa. While in the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15s, F16s or F-22s get the thrill of flying with Santa and the famous Reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Even though Santa flies faster than any jet fighter (Santa actually slows down for us to escort him), all of these systems together provide NORAD with a very good continuous picture of his whereabouts.
The site also addresses common questions you may have about tracking Santa:
WHAT ROUTE DOES SANTA TRAVEL?
Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. Keep in mind, Santa’s route can be affected by weather, so it’s really unpredictable. NORAD coordinates with Santa’s Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots. We just track him!
HOW CAN SANTA TRAVEL THE WORLD WITHIN 24 HOURS?
NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do. His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading joy to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum.
DOES NORAD HAVE ANY STATISTICS ON SANTA’S SLEIGH?
NORAD can confirm that Santa’s sleigh is a versatile, all weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle. It is capable of traveling vast distances without refueling and is deployed, as far as we know, only on December 24th (and sometimes briefly for a test flight about a month before Christmas).
SLEIGH TECHNICAL DATA
|Designer & Builder
||K. Kringle & Elves, Inc.
|Probable First Flight
||Dec. 24, 343 A.D.
||75 cc (candy canes) / 150 lp (lollipops)
||40 cc / 80 lp
||55 cc / 110 lp
|Note: Length, width and height are without reindeer
|Weight at takeoff
||75,000 gd (gumdrops)
|Passenger weight at takeoff
||Santa Claus 260 pounds
|Weight of gifts at takeoff
|Weight at landing
||80,000 gd (ice & snow accumulation)
|Passenger weight at landing
||Nine (9) rp (reindeer power)
||Antlers (purely defensive)
||Hay, oats and carrots (for reindeer)
||One “T” (Twinkle of an eye)
||Faster than starlight