It’s the busiest night of the year for jolly St. Nick, who has less than 24 hours to fly around the entire world, delivering presents to kids in every home.
For those here in Canada anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) – a joint operation between Canada and the United States that monitors airspace in North America – is tracking Santa’s journey around the world and providing up-to-the-minute updates on his whereabouts on social media.
NORAD will be live-tweeting Santa’s journey throughout the day and civilians can also follow along on NORAD’s live map on its website. Social media users can start tracking Santa’s journey anytime after 12:01 a.m. ET on December 24.
How exactly does NORAD keep track of Santa’s magical sleigh? Thanks to Rudolph, and a little technology, the process is quite simple.
The command centre’s Defense Support Program satellites use an infrared sensor to detect heat signatures from Rudolph’s nose to provide accurate tracking of the sleigh.
NORAD’s Santa Tracker has been operating since 1955, after an advertisement misprinted the telephone number for kids to call Santa. Instead of reaching the jolly man himself, kids started calling the Continental Air Defense Command commander-in-chief who began updating the kids on Santa’s geographic location.
In 2015, NORAD Santa Tracker volunteers answered more than 141,000 phone calls from kids asking about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve. Today, over 1.6 million people have “Liked” the Santa Tracker’s Facebook page and its Twitter feed has over 164,000 followers.
Track Santa’s journey at home
Twitter users can follow along using the hashtag #NORAD, or visit NORAD’s website for more interactive updates. Plus, if you have a vehicle with OnStar, you can check in with your system to see where Santa is in the world if you are travelling.
Google also has a Santa tracker that maps the sleigh’s journey on an interactive map.
And when you put out some milk and cookies for Santa tonight, make sure to leave Rudolph and the other reindeer some carrot stick – they are bound to be tired by the time they get to Canada.