Santa Clausmade his annual trip from the North Pole on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to children all over the world. And like it does every year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD, has its official tracker following Santa’s journey for Christmas 2023.
NORAD, which is responsible for protecting the skies over the United States and Canada, has been tracking Santa every Christmas Eve for the last 68 years.
Here is all you need to know to track Saint Nick on his travels this Christmas:
Where is Santa right now?
As of about 6:30 a.m. ET on Christmas Day, NORAD says Santa has completed his rounds for this year, stopping in Hawaii and the South Pacific Islands after moving across the United States. Earlier he’d been tracked heading across Asia, Africa, Europe, and then South America. NORAD says he’s delivered some 7.8 billion gifts.
You can monitor Santa’s progress in NORAD’s map below. [Note: The map works better on mobile devices; if you don’t see it below you can click hereto view it on NORAD’s website.]
Operators were also standing by at 1-877-HI-NORAD for families who want to call for an update on Santa’s whereabouts. Last year, NORAD and volunteers answered over 73,000 calls on Christmas Eve, according to the Pentagon.
When will Santa come to your house?
According to NORAD, it’s impossible to know because only Santa knows his route. But history suggests he only arrives when children are asleep, so anytime between 9 p.m. and midnight on December 24 is a good bet.
“If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns later, but only when the children are asleep!” NORAD says.
How does the Santa tracker work?
NORAD uses a combination of radars, satellites and jet fighters, it says, to keep a watchful eye on Santa’s progress.
Its radar system, called the North Warning System, monitors the North Pole every Christmas.
“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,” NORAD’s Santa tracker website says.
Satellites located 22,300 miles above the Earth with infrared sensors also help NORAD in its tracking duties.
“Rudolph’s nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch,” NORAD says. “The satellites detect Rudolph’s bright red nose with no problem.”
And finally, NORAD says Canadian and American jet fighters welcome Santa and his reindeer and escort them through North American airspace.
“Even though Santa flies faster than any jet fighter (Santa slows down for us to escort him), all of these systems together provide NORAD with a very good continuous picture of his whereabouts,” according to NORAD.