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This ABC News video describes how for the 66th year in a row NORAD will be tracking Santa Claus's progress.

This year they will have to contend with a potential conjunction between Santa's sleigh and the Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana on the northeastern coast of South America carrying the JWST to the stable manifold leading to its halo orbit around Sun-Earth L2.

Question: What is the expected closest approach between the launch vehicle and Santa Claus's sleigh? Is it timed so that they'll be safely separated, or could it be a close call?

Does SOCRATES have any warnings?


screenshot from the ABC News video "Gaming change for Tesla" and other news

screenshot from the ABC News video "Gaming change for Tesla" and other news

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By the time JWST launched, Santa should have been long since done with his errands in that part of the world. And JWST was way above Santa's track PDQ!

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I totally forgot about altitude! Since Santa needs to make such a large number of descents and ascents, the ceiling will be relatively low, not to mention the need for oxygen. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ But is it possible to add some facts or numbers to support this? While this is likely to be correct, Stack Exchange answers need to support their assertions through citing authoritative sources, calculations or at least a rational deduction. Perhaps a few times or altitudes is all that's necessary here. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 2:42
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There was never any chance of conjunction!

The launch happened at "lunch time" in western Europe, at about 12:20 UTC on 25-Dec-2021.

Santa would be in places where it was late at night or early morning, when all good little astronauts would be asleep, so say 24-Dec-2021 22:00 to 25-Dec-2021 04:00 local time to avoid dawn or getting too far behind schedule.

That's nearly on the other side of the globe from Europe where the launch was, but only the 00:00 to 04:00 part.

So we need to look only west by 8 to 12 hours in time zones, which starts at the western edge of North America and goes west past Polynesia.

The videos show the launch in daylight, and it travels eastward towards time zones later and later Christmas day.

So regardless of altitude arguments (answer deleted at the moment) there was no chance of conjunction!


world time zone map, cropped and annotated from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_Time_Zones_Map.png

cropped and annotated from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_Time_Zones_Map.png

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