NORAD Tracks Santa logo over a winter scene with Santa and reindeer sleigh flying in front of the moon

NORAD Has the Watch: Santa Tracker

Want to be sure your flightpath is clear on Christmas Eve? Don’t worry, NORAD has you covered. Early in the morning on December 24th, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) records the launch of a very special aircraft. After coordinating with “Santa’s Elf Launch Staff” to confirm his launch time, they then tell anyone who is looking for a specific placement on Santa, “We have the Watch.”

NORAD tracks Santa logo

NORAD’s Santa Tracker website launches each year on December 1, and in 2023 it offers plenty of activities leading up to Santa’s trip. Visitors can explore world traditions at the North Pole’s library, listen to classics like “Here Comes Santa Claus” playing on the music stage, and play a new game every day (as well as the ones from the previous days) at the arcade. You can also find a blueprint of Santa’s sleigh, which, if you’re curious, measures 75 cc (candy canes) or 150 lp (lollipops) by 40 cc (80 lp).

The site also offers plenty of information about NORAD’s tracking abilities. They use radar, satellites, and jet fighters, such as Canadian CF-18s and American F-22s, that escort Santa across North America (see this video and the image below).

Santa shaking hands with a fighter pilot in front of a fighter jet.

According to the website, Rudolph’s nose gives off a signature similar to a rocket launch, and their satellites detect it with “no problem.” Santa’s trip starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west visiting the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After he finishes his stops in the Australian outback, he travels to Japan, over Asia, across to Africa, then on to Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Started in 1955 when a phone number mix-up caused children to call the Continental Air Defense Command asking for Santa, the tracking tradition celebrates its 68th year in 2023 (it was taken on by NORAD in 1958). On December 24th, trackers worldwide can call 1-877-HI-NORAD from 6 a.m. to midnight MST or visit the website from 4 a.m. to midnight MST to follow Santa’s flight around the world.

room full of NORAD volunteers helping track Santa.

When asked about the existence of Santa, NORAD replies, “Mountains of historical data and NORAD tracking information lead us to believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world.”

If Santa is in your heart or in the heart of someone close to you, the NORAD Santa Tracker will provide hours of joy (and new videos of Santa every hour). On behalf of ASA, have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.

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