Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Hi-tech helps track Santa Claus

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Brian McClendon, engineering director for Google Earth and Google Maps, on tracking Santa. Video courtesy of Google and Norad.

Children wanting to track Santa Claus's global journey on Christmas Eve have a number of options this year.

As always, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) will be keeping tabs on Santa and children can follow his progress on Google Earth.

In addition, they can send e-mails to the tracking team or even follow Santa on Twitter.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a tradition that started by accident in Colorado, in the US.

Father Christmas's journey will start at 1100 GMT and children worldwide can track his progress using Google Maps and Google Earth.

He will pass 24 "Santa cams" around the world, providing live video feeds of his progress, which will in turn be put onto Norad's YouTube channel as they happen.

For even more up-to-the-minute progress reports, Santa can be followed on the Twitter microblogging service, on which he is known as @noradsanta.

And lastly, Norad volunteers can answer e-mails about Santa's journey (the address is noradtrackssanta@gmail.com).

Newspaper misprint

Norad's 50-year tradition of tracking Father Christmas goes back to a misprint in a Colorado newspaper advertisement in 1955.

A local child wanting to know Santa's whereabouts dialled the phone number printed, which connected to the Continental Air Defense Command (Conad).

As more mistaken calls came in, the commander on the other end of the phone answered the queries and the tradition continued in 1958 when Conad became Norad.

The effort spread to the internet in 1998 and in 2007 Norad's Santa tracking site saw more than 10m visitors from 212 countries.

Volunteers fielded nearly 95,000 phone calls and 140,000 e-mails.

This year when Santa takes flight from the North Pole, more than 1,000 volunteers will be on hand to help out.

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SEE ALSO
Santa's movements tracked
19 Dec 07 |  England
RAF 'tracking Santa Claus'
17 Dec 07 |  England
US tracks Santa's Christmas route
23 Dec 05 |  Americas

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