Friday, Dec. 24, 2010 | 12:12 p.m.
The U.S. military confirms that Santa Claus has departed the North Pole and is now tracking his reindeer-towed sleigh via satellites as he makes his yearly trek around the globe.
As of shortly before noon, the North American Aerospace Defense Command had locked on Santa over the Middle East. To follow him on his trip, go to NORAD’s Santa tracker website.
NORAD uses radar, satellites, special Santa Cams and airborne fighter jets to follow Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve.
Radar detects Santa’s departure from the North Pole and then geo-synchronous satellites with high-tech sensors are able to pick up the infrared signature from Rudolph’s bright red nose to continue tracking the sleigh.
Santa Cams offer live pictures, available on the website, of Saint Nick passing landmarks such as the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall of China. Finally, he is escorted into North American airspace by Canadian and U.S. fighter jets.
NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command, have been tracking Santa’s flight since 1955 after a Sears Roebuck & Co. ad for children to call Santa accidentally included the number to the command’s operations hotline.
As children called in, the commander checked the radar to provide updates on Santa’s location and the tradition was born.