NOTE: If you’re on a mobile device, click here to see the NORAD Santa Tracker.
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has spent more than 60 years tracking Santa Claus’ journey around the world using radar, jet fighters and special cameras.
First, NORAD’s North Warning System, with nearly 50 installations across northern Canada and Alaska, closely monitor signs of when Santa leaves the North Pole in his flying-reindeer-powered sleigh.
Next, the geosynchronous orbit satellite system begins tracking Santa’s route, 22,000 miles above Earth, using infrared systems that detect heat to pick up the warmth generated by Rudolph the reindeer’s red nose.
Then, NORAD SantaCams positioned around the world are switched on about an hour before Santa enters a country. After it captures images of Santa and his reindeer, NORAD volunteers immediately download the pictures onto NORADSanta.org for people to see!
Finally, Canadian NORAD CF-18 fighter pilots take off from Newfoundland and welcome Santa and his reindeer to North America, where American NORAD jet pilots escort him in F-15s, -16s or -22s.
You can also follow along on Santa’s journey via Facebook, Twitter or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for those of you who aren’t NORAD fans, Google also has a Santa Tracker set up to track his journey!