With Santa's arrival imminent, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has a firm lock on a glowing object moving quickly across the skies, and can confirm that it is indeed Rudolph's bright red nose, according to Susan Alexander, a volunteer for the organization, in a Christmas Eve interview with The Huffington Post.*
The group has been tracking Santa every Christmas Eve, for 57 years, using radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighters.
It all started when Sears Roebuck & Co. advertised their Santa hotline in a 1955 publication. "Hey Kiddies, call me direct on my telephone," the ad said with a portrait of Saint Nick and ... the wrong phone number.
Instead of calling the store, children reached CONAD (the Continental Air Defense Command which later became NORAD). Luckily for everyone, Colonel Harry Shoup was in charge at the time. Rather than turn the kids away, he told his staff to check their radar and provide updates on Santa's location, all night long. And as the official NORAD website says, "a tradition was born."
Over the years, NORAD added more satellites to pinpoint Santa's exact location as he made his way from chimney to chimney. In 1998, the Santa Cam Network -- "ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many locations around the world... [to] capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world" -- made its debut.
-- Sqn Ldr Rob Pitt RAF (@RAFRSQNLDR) December 11, 2013
Now, you can track Santa's journey all day and night online. (Follow his journey, using the map above.) For an exact location, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, the organization hasn't done away with good old-fashioned phone lines. Volunteers like Alexander are standing by to take kids' calls at 1-877-HI-NORAD or 1-877-446-6723.
If you cannot reach a NORAD representative right away, here are a few answers to FAQ's from their website.
When will Santa arrive at my house?
"NORAD tracks Santa, but only Santa knows his route, which means we cannot predict where and when he will arrive at your house. We do, however, know from history that it appears he arrives only when children are asleep! In most countries, it seems Santa arrives between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on December 24th. If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns later, but only when the children are asleep!"
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."
Is there a Santa Claus?
"Mountains of historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information leads us to believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world."
* Play along, people. It's Christmas.