Track Santa on the Web

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As the weekend arrives, if you’re celebrating Christmas with family, hopefully by Sunday night you’ll be done with your travelling and settled in to spend some time with people close to you. But you can still keep track of what’s going on in that big world outside, thanks to your computer and the World Wide Web.

One service provided by the Internet this weekend is tracking the progress of Santa and his reindeer. The most venerable of Santa trackers is NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Agency, whose regular, Cold War-era job is to watch for incoming missiles. On Christmas Eve, they put all that technology to work to look for Santa, a tradition over 50 years old. Before the Web, the Santa updates got to us mainly via newscasts and radio, and many of us will remember seeing TV weathermen on Christmas Eve showing the track of Santa across the map, and crediting the information to NORAD. Since 1998, we’ve been able to track Santa via NORAD on the Web. You can also send email to Santa from the site, and find out all kinds of info from how the tradition started (with a misprinted phone number) to how the tracking works (via satellites, jet aircraft, Santa Cams, and radar).

Google Earth also has a Santa-tracking site this year, and so does Flight Explorer. Check them out ahead of time, you may have to download software and tweak your system to get the full effect.