By Eva Potter

If your parents have an iPhone, Windows phone or Android phone, you can get an inside look at Santa’s travels on Christmas Eve this year. All they have to do is download the free NORAD Tracks Santa app. By the way, it works on iPads and iTouch as well.

The NORAD Tracks Santa app is the official mobile app of the NORAD Tracks Santa program. Watch Santa fly around the world on Dec. 24 and count down to when the app begins tracking Santa’s flight. You can even play “Thin Ice” to help Santa’s elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission.

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight using radar, satellites, SantaCams and fighter jets.

NORAD uses its powerful North Warning System radar that has 47 locations across North Canada and Alaska. NORAD watches closely for Santa Claus’ departure from the North Pole every holiday season, and the moment radar says he has lifted off, they start using their special satellites equipped with infrared sensors that can detect the heat coming off Rudolph’s nose!

According to the NORAD website, they turn their high-speed SantaCams once a year, on Dec. 24, “about one hour before Santa enters a country, then switch them off after we capture images of him and the reindeer.”

Lastly, NORAD uses Canadian NORAD fighter pilots to track Santa and welcome him to North America. While Santa flies over the United States. American NORAD fighter pilots fly alongside Santa and the famous reindeer. He loves to fly alongside these pilots and always waves.

Santa is about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs about 260 pounds (before cookies) and is at least 16 centuries old. Based on fighter-aircraft photos, we know he has a big belly, rosy cheeks from sleigh riding in cold weather, and a flowing white beard,” as indicated by NORAD’s more than 50 years of flight data. Also, “Santa visits all homes with children who believe in him.”

While NORAD tracks Santa, they can’t really predict where and when he will arrive — only Santa knows his route and it can vary. From past Christmases, he generally arrives between 9 p.m. and midnight on Dec. 24 in most countries, but only if the children are asleep. If Santa detects children who are still awake, he will skip this house and return later.

If you’re too excited to fall asleep, you can send an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com on Dec. 24 and a NORAD staff member will respond to your email with Santa’s last known location.

Remember, you can also track him on your cell phone, or live chat with a NORAD operator on the official Windows 8 app! You can also use the special tracking website at www.noradsanta.org.