TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Once again, 'tis the season for tracking Santa - something that North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, for more than 60 years.
NORAD, an organization charged with the air defense of the United States and Canada, got into the Santa-tracking business by accident.
In 1955, a Sears & Roebuck advertisement in Colorado Springs, CO, urged children to call Santa, but the number was misprinted.
The children instead reached another hotline instead: the operations hotline of Col. Harry Shoup, the crew commander on duty at what was then known as the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, an organization that helped guard North America against potential air attack.
Shoup had his staff check the radar for signs that Santa was making his way south from the North Pole.
NORAD took over Santa-tracking duties when it was created in 1958.
On Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, NORAD tracks Santa's progress across the globe, helping anxious boys and girls know when they should be tucked away in bed.
The NORAD radar system, called the North Warning System, has 47 sites across north Canada and Alaska. This radar array helps determine when Santa has lifted off.
Once Santa lifts off, he is tracked with the same satellites designed to warn North America of potential missile launches. With the satellites' infrared sensors, Santa's sleigh is easily tracked thanks to "the most famous reindeer of all."
"Rudolph's nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites detect Rudolph's bright red nose with no problem," NORAD noted in its top-secret Santa file.
In the meantime, children of all ages can prepare for the annual flight of jolly old St. Nick on the NORAD Tracks Santa official site.
The website is decked out with a multifaceted Santa experience. You can blast a streaming Good King Wenceslas while exploring Santa's village, which includes information about NORAD, Santa Claus, holiday traditions, related YouTube videos, holiday stories and coloring pages.
As much of the world has gone mobile, so has NORAD Track Santa. Official apps are available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores.
The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.