It's Christmastime, space fans! Here are three ways you can get into the holiday spirit and express your love of the cosmos.
When Christmas Eve rolls around, many people will turn their eyes to the sky to try and catch a glimpse of Santa's sleigh, but we recommend taking a more high-tech approach and heading over to the NORAD Tracks Santa website. Managed by the U.S. and Canada, NORAD (which stands for the North American Aerospace Defense Command) monitors North American airspace for flying objects made by humans, or a reindeer-pulled sleigh driven by a jolly old elf.
NORAD will begin tracking Santa at 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT) on Dec. 24. The website features a countdown clock ticking off the hours until then. The website also includes lots of games, music, gift ideas and videos. [Holidays in Space: An Astronaut Photo Album]
And since you'll already be tracking flying objects as they soar overhead, why not follow the location of the International Space Station as well? Using NASA's tracker, you can find out when the station will fly over your location, so you can see it in the sky.
The astronauts and cosmonauts on board the orbiting laboratory will be celebrating Christmas this Sunday (Dec. 25). NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson tweeted a photo that shows her getting into the holiday spirit while weightless.
In the Christmas Spirit! pic.twitter.com/OHxAPcL48q— Peggy Whitson (@AstroPeggy) December 22, 2016
And finally, if you haven't sent your holiday cards out yet, consider giving out virtual cards with a space twist: As in past years, the European Space Agency's website features an offering of space-themed holiday e-cards that you can send for free. The cards feature images of deep-space objects and human-made satellites, and snapshots of the Earth from orbit.