Santa is off on his annual around-the-world-in-a-night trip, climbing up and down chimneys, delivering dreams, eating mince buys and getting tanked up on sherry.
He also appears to be in two places at once, the reason being there are two Santa trackers up and running this year. For the last five years, Google has worked with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to keep kids up to date with Santa’s whereabouts, but this year, for reasons not entirely clear, the two decided to go their separate ways.
As you’d expect, Google’s tracker utilizes Google Maps and Earth, while NORAD has teamed up with Microsoft and Bing Maps to feed us with information on Santa’s progress. Wonder why they didn’t go with Apple Maps….
Google’s offering is, it has to be said, easier on the eye, with lots of interactive bits and bobs to keep you (or even your children) busy. A dashboard on the left side of the main page lets you know Santa’s current location (Europe at the time of writing), where he’s off to next, how many gifts he’s delivered (1.5 billion at the time of writing) and how far he and his hard-working reindeers have traveled (127,000 miles so far).
Little gift icons dotted about the world map indicate where he’s already been – click on one and you’ll see the name of the city and how many presents he delivered. In London, for example, he dropped off a staggering 23,590,972 separate items.
For a bit of extra fun, click the small arrow at the very bottom left of the screen and try out a few of the ultra-simple Christmas-themed games offered, or even engage in an online chat with the man himself (how does he find the time?).
The NORAD site, as you might expect, delivers an entirely different set of data, so either there are two Santas on the job tonight or one of the trackers is out of sync with what’s really happening in the field. Take a moment to view some of NORAD’s Santa Cams, described as “ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras” placed at many locations around the world, capturing images and photos of Santa as he goes about his business.
For children eager to know precisely when Santa will be arriving at their house, NORAD has this to say: “NORAD tracks Santa, but only Santa knows his route, which means we cannot predict where and when he will arrive at your house. We do, however, know from history that it appears he arrives only when children are asleep! In most countries, it seems Santa arrives between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on December 24th. If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns later…but only when the children are asleep!”
So, kids, best you stop reading this and go to bed. Now!