In Brief

Make Christmas Cosmic with NORAD's Track Santa & Space Holiday Cards

Norad Santa Tracker
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will kick off their annual tracking of Santa on Dec. 24.

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. 

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.

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter