See where Santa is coming from this year in this neat map showing the geographic and magnetic North Poles.
- NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory found the location of the 2011 North Pole.
Everybody knows that Santa lives at the North Pole. Heck, even news reporters, whose job it is to be skeptical, believe the North Pole is the "[m]ythical home of Santa Claus," according to the AP Style guide.
But it turns out it's not that simple. There are two North Poles, in fact, and Santa could be at either one.
While he's known for spreading good cheer around the world on Dec. 25, the rest of the year Santa actually tries to make himself as hard to find as possible. You would to if you had legions of nutso fans, not to mention seriously PO'd people who'd like to talk about the long underwear under their Christmas tree.
So, into an underground bunker go all the reindeer. Gone is that highly visible, Redcoat-like velvet cape, and out comes the military-grade Arctic camouflage. And then Santa books it to an undisclosed location near either the geographic North Pole or the magnetic North Pole. Whether he keeps a different Mrs. Claus at each location is still a subject of rumor.
Chances are that Santa prefers the magnetic pole for its hard-to-nail-down coordinates. While you can find the geographic pole at the same barren patch of snow every year (90°N, 0°W), the magnetic pole wanders all over the darn place to follow the Earth's shifting magnetic field. Some years, it might make a journey of up to 40 miles.
But scientists from the National Geophysical Data Center are hip to Santa's sneaky tactics. See the map above for the locations of 2011's North Poles as well as the current Arctic snow and ice cover. (Large version.) The magnetic pole is now situated around 85.9°N, 147°W but is slowly moving northwest. So if you plan on tracking down Santa this year, better get a move on and bring a magnetometer.