By Amanda Yiu
The countdown is on for Santa’s takeoff from the North Pole to all corners of the world, and this year you can track his amazing journey in real-time on the eve of Christmas with a new, free mobile app from NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command).
The NORAD Tracks Santa app uses Google Earth service to follow Santa’s travels around a 3D virtual globe. Guided by Rudolph’s glowing red nose, children can pinpoint Santa’s exact location as they watch a video of him flying past world landmarks. A recap of St. Nick’s trip itinerary can also be viewed on Google Maps in both mobile and desktop forms in case you miss any of the action.
The official NORAD Tracks Santa program has been around since 1955 and initially was a system of telephone hotlines that public could call to discover Santa’s whereabouts.
Since 2004, NORAD has teamed up with Google to provide real-time updates of Santa’s journey, which starts promptly at midnight from the international date line and moves westward to all the homes in world by 6 am.
What has been a Christmas tradition for families is now a hit with social media users, too: the program has 60,000 Twitter followers (@NoradSanta) and more than 740,000 fans on Facebook. To help spread the word, a video recapping Santa’s 2010 trek has been played on Air Canada flights this month.
The excitement begins at 2 am ET this Saturday, December 24. The free mobile app is available for iPhone and Android.
To learn how NORAD will be tracking Santa in the Canadian region this year, check out this informative sneak peek video.