Santa Claus is coming to town. But when and where is he now?
Everyone knows that Santa will eventually end up on our doorsteps this year, but sometimes the anticipation of exactly when that might occur is too much to bear. Need to know precisely where Santa is on Christmas Eve? Excited kids all over the world have a number of high-tech options for keeping tabs on jolly old St. Nick this year. For more than 50 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been helping kids track Santa via a hotline (1-877-HI-NORAD) and now also on on its website
, on Google Earth
, and Google+
. Kids with smartphone access can also track Santa via Google Maps
or the Santa Tracker app
So how did all of this Santa tracking get started? It all started in 1955, when a Sears Roebuck & Co. ad in a Colorado newspaper printed a phone number that kids could call to connect with Santa, only the number accidently directed them to NORAD's hotline. NORAD's director of operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, didn't want to disappoint the kids, so he ordered his staff to check the radar and let the kids know where Santa might be. And thus Santa tracking was born.
Since that time, NORAD volunteers have staffed the phones on Christmas Eve to keep kids posted on Santa's whereabouts. Michelle Obama even surprised kids last year by personally answering Santa tracker calls.
How does NORAD know track Santa? According to their website, NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa -- radar, satellites, Santa cams and fighter jets. "Amazingly, Rudolph's bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allows our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa," it says.