To add to the excitement of Christmas Eve preparations like hanging out stockings and leaving mince pies, sherry and carrots by the fireplace, you can now follow Santa online as he embarks on his journey around the globe.
How to follow Santa
There are lots of ways to keep up to date with Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve but we’re pretty certain that gathering around the nearest computer to watch the magical sleigh move from country to country is the most exciting of them all! Google Earth usually has a feature where you can view Santa’s ‘dashboard’ for information such as his location, total distance travelled and how many presents he’s delivered so far, meanwhile the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) has had its own site running since 1997.
NORAD Tracks Santa
NORAD began its path to becoming the world’s leading Santa tracker in 1955, when Sears Roebuck (an American department store) gave children a number to call where they could chat to Santa and wish him a Merry Christmas. Sears accidentally put the wrong number on their adverts and children actually ended up getting through to a government agency, responsible for protecting America from missile attacks! The director of Colorado Springs Continental Air Defence Command (CONAD) told the employees to play along anyway and give Santa’s precise location to every child who called. When the Americans and Canadians joined together to create NORAD three years later, the tradition stuck and NTS has since expanded into a hugely successful enterprise.
The science behind Santa tracking
As well as the number of ultra-hi-tech ‘Santa Cams’ positioned at various locations all over the world, the NTS attributes its exceptionally close tracking of Santa to some other clever (if slightly wacky) technology:
• NORAD’s North Warning System is usually employed to detect airborne threats to national security. On the night before Christmas though, the ‘tripwire’ which spans the northern border of the continent will be triggered instead by Santa Claus as he crosses over from the North Pole. This is proof that Santa Claus is indeed Coming to Town, and signals for all systems go at NTS HQ!
• According to NTS, the glow of Rudolph’s nose is so bright that it can be detected by infrared sensors in space... These sensors are located on satellites that are in geo-synchronous orbit at around 22,300 miles altitude. By analysing the radiation recorded from the sensors, the experts at NORAD can determine the precise position of Santa Claus in relation to the Earth’s surface.