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Track Father Christmas in Google Earth

Follow Santa's movements in 3D

Google and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) are letting web users across the globe track Father Christmas on his travels tonight using Google Earth and Google Maps.

"The partnership between Google and Norad to bring the Norad Tracks Santa Program to children around the world has been a perfect fit," said Stacia Reddish, a Norad Tracks Santa program manager.

"Google has the server power needed for the program, and the fabulous people required in the mapping arena to ensure children know where Father Christmas will be as he makes his trek around the globe."

Net users can visit Norad's dedicated website, which features a Google Map of the big man's travels. While this isn't the first time that Google has offered the service, this is the first year that they can follow him via their mobile phones with Google Maps for Mobile, and using Twitter by adding @noradsanta.

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"I always thought Norad's Santa Tracker was a great tradition, but I felt like it could have been even better if people could visualise exactly where Father Christmas was on Christmas Eve," said Brian McClendon, an engineering director at Google in a blog.

"We're hoping this version of the tracker will be the best yet. In addition to our 'Santa Cam' footage, geo-located photos from Panoramio will be viewable in Google Maps for each of Santa's stops that don't include video."

The tracking begins today and will be updated as his journey progresses. Web users can even track Santa in 3D in Google Earth by downloading a special Norad Tracks Santa KML from the Norad website. Google added that they will have hi-resolution Santa Cam videos of the jolly man flying by different locations around the world.

"We're hoping this version of the tracker will be the best yet.," said McClendon.

Norad has been tracking Santa since 1958 and has been tracking him via the web since 1998.

See also: Can Google Apps beat Microsoft Office?

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