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NORAD Tracks Santa

Google, NORAD to track Santa early into Christmas Day

If the little ones just refuse to go to bed for fear they’ll miss Santa, you might want to stay up together and watch the sleigh ride via satellite.

Almost anything can be watched from your phone, tablet, or computer, be it movies, TV shows, or just a live feed of space, direct from the International Space Station.

But did you know you could also watch Santa make his historic annual sleigh ride yearly using a website?

There are two this year, as has been the case for the past several, as both America’s military defense NORAD and Google launch websites to track The Man in Red, the former of which has some history.

NORAD Tracks Santa

The first of the Santa tracking services, NORAD Tracks Santa is the one most people will be familiar with in some way.

Back in November 1955, a child caller to a Santa Claus calling service dialed the wrong number. Instead of going to someone pretending to be Santa, it went to what was then the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), which later became North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). When the call was picked up and the child asked if Santa was at the North Pole, the then-commander of the base Colonel Harry Shoup told the child there may be a Santa Claus, but during the 50s and amidst the Cold War, added “he’s not the one I worry about coming from that direction”.

Shortly after, NORAD set up a Santa Claus tracking program, and it has become an icon. Every year, NORAD tracks Santa using the same hardware used for America’s airspace defense program, and this year is in its 64th year.

NORAD Tracks Santa kicks into action when the clock turns midnight for the start of the world, around UTC+14, or three hours past 9pm AEST. From the moment it becomes December 25, NORAD’s tracking system whirs into action, and you can watch the action there.

Google Tracks Santa

NORAD isn’t the only organisation monitoring Santa’s Sleigh. Google’s Santa Tracker is also active, a program that launched around 15 years ago and provides a Google Earth-based version of a Santa Claus tracking system, which also includes some games for kids, as well some edutainment thrown in for good measure.

Like NORAD Tracks Santa, Google’s Santa Tracker kicks in from midnight UTC+14, which is basically Samoa, and pushes on through until it becomes midnight in UTC-11 where Jarvis Island is, just one hour earlier than the time in Hawaii (UTC-10).

It should also work with Google Assistant, which means if you have a Google Home smart speaker or smart display, you can ask Google “Where’s Santa”, and it should tell you from the Google Santa Tracker.

Amazon’s Alexa tracks Santa

There’s also another smart speaker that is tracking Santa, with Amazon Alexa speakers.

As part of Amazon’s delivery of Santa-related goodness last year, you should be able to ask Alexa speakers “Alexa, where’s Santa” and have the speaker tell you that.

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