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Google & NORAD Team Up Again For Santa Tracking 2008
My favorite Christmas activity is tracking Santa’s route around the world. Once again, NORAD and Google are making it easy.
NOTE: If you’re looking for the latest information on Santa tracking for the current year, see our Your Guide To Santa Trackers page.
NORAD — you know, the missile tracking people — might seem an unlikely group to track Santa. But they’ve been doing it for over 50 years, thanks to a misprinted phone number.
Currently the site has little more than a countdown until Christmas and a Club Penguin-like online game area. On Christmas Eve, that will change dramatically. To better understand, see my Instructions On Tracking Santa With NORAD & Google: The 2007 Edition post from last year.
To summarize from that post, Santa’s route will be illustrated based on the current time, as in this screenshot from last year:
In some places, you see a video icon. Clicking on them will make a window appear where you can play a video, like this:
All these videos will eventually get posted to the NORAD channel on YouTube, but you’ll get disappointed if you head there now. The channel has been disabled no doubt to prevent people from getting an early look. Similarly, the playlist of videos from last year is still alive but none of the videos will actually play.
Aside from the videos, NORAD will also offer a special file for use with Google Earth, so that he can be tracked in 3D, like this:
The file will be posted here. Right now, there’s only a link to download Google Earth, but the additional file you need will be posted on Christmas Eve. Can’t wait? You might try using last year’s file here.
Out-and-about on Christmas Eve? There’s a new mobile Santa tracking option being offered for anyone with Google Maps For Mobile.
And feeling old fashioned about your phone? You can actually just call and talk to a real live human being for a Santa update. Email is also accepted.
Finally, a last public plea. As I said last year, I’m begging NORAD to offer “parent mode” for the site. Santa only appears near a particular location an hour before midnight. But little kids often go to sleep well before midnight. If you want them in bed on Christmas Eve, showing them that Santa is flying nearby is an excellent way get them to scurry off under the covers.
So please, NORAD, let me say it’s bedtime for my particular location and see Santa flying nearby when it makes sense for me (and other parents).