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Santa Goes High-Tech with Apps, Phone Updates

NORAD will once again track Santa's travels around the world on Christmas Eve. This year, your options — and your kids' — for following his journey include mobile apps and tweets. And we'll have the Santa Tracker live on Rockridge Patch o

Sure, he sees you when you're sleeping. But now it's your turn to keep tabs on the Man in Red.

This season you can track Santa's flight in Google Earth, receive mobile phone updates on his whereabouts, and check in regularly for high speed-photo and video footage of his reindeer and sleigh as they deliver presents around the world. He's also on Facebook and Twitter

How, exactly?

The Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is charged with keeping the United States and Canada safe from dangers originating from the sky or space.

So it stands to reason they would use radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets to track Santa's flight path from the North Pole, across North America.

According to their website: "Satellites positioned in geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles from the Earth's surface are equipped with infrared sensors, which enable them to detect heat. Amazingly, Rudolph's bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allows our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa."

In addition, they use pre-positioned high-tech cameras to capture images of Saint Nick. And of course, fighter pilots equipped in F-16's are on hand to welcome the Big Man to the United States.

The main Santa Tracking webpage is here. Check the bottom of the page to download apps. The website also includes a countdown and activity page that's sure to entertain. 

57 Years of Santa Tracking

NORAD and Santa have been partners for more than 50 years, although the partnership's origins were considerably more low-tech — and the result of a typo.

According to the NORAD/Santa website, "The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations 'hotline.' The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

"In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

"Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website."

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