Where in the world is Santa Claus?
Depends on whom you ask.
Two popular Santa trackers — Google and NORAD — were purportedly showing different locations for St. Nick on Tuesday night, causing many people (especially parents) to take to the Internet to air their grievances.
Real issues in our household now because the NORAD Santa tracker has Santa in a different place than the Google Santa tracker— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) December 25, 2019
Google: Santa is off the coast of Argentia and has delivered nearly 6 billion gifts.— Andy Richardson ☃️ (@andres_en_tx) December 25, 2019
NORAD: Santa is over Eastern Canada and has delivered nearly 5 billion gifts.
What does this mean? Are there two Santas? Is one an imposter? pic.twitter.com/4SrmngaNtM
The NORAD Santa tracker and Google Santa tracker need to get on the same page. Google says he’s in Cameroon, NORAD says he’s in Poland.— Greg Royce (@gregroyce) December 24, 2019
#INVESTIGATION: I’ve spent time researching today and talking to officials - there are serious discrepancies between @NoradSanta’s tracker and @google’s Santa Tracker.— Nate Benson (@natebenson) December 25, 2019
Norad has him in Brazil and Google has him in France.
I’m told his signal is jamming tracking equip. pic.twitter.com/WnLfneBHCm
Norad Santa is working the west coast of Australia, Google santa has finished Australia and is now in Indonesia.— Taz Wake (@tazwake) December 24, 2019
Google has Santa in Western Africa, but Norad has Santa in South America. Which one do I believe???? 😳— Sabs (@ThatGirlSabs) December 25, 2019
According to The Washington Post, the NORAD tracking system, which is run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, uses satellites, radar, jet fighters, apps, social media accounts, and volunteers to track Santa’s location. However, it’s not entirely clear how or why Santa determines the route he takes.
This year’s portals for NORAD include Alexa, OnStar, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and 3-D apps that integrate geospatial and satellite-positioning technology with high-resolution graphics that display the actual positions of the stars, sun, and moon and the shadows they cast at any point in Santa’s journey, according to the Associated Press. It takes dozens of tech firms — including (interestingly enough) Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Bing Maps — to deliver the immersive effect for global Santa trackers, with some 15 million visits to the website alone last year, according to the AP.
While the NORAD tracker shows Santa traveling over a detailed globe-esque setting, the Google tracker takes a more 2-D approach. Google’s version also features many Christmas-themed games to keep children (and, sure, adults) entertained as Father Christmas makes his journey.
“Psst! Did you know, Santa’s journey lasts 25 hours?!” a Google webpage reads. “He makes his first stop just after 10 PM local time in far eastern Russia, when it’s 5 AM in New York and 11 AM in Paris.”
The Washington Post notes that NORAD — which was expected to see 140,000 or so phone calls on Christmas Eve — and Google’s trackers have seen similar snafus in previous years, chalking the differences up as “a testament to Santa’s mischievous ways.”
At least one Twitter account seemed to explain the discrepancy:
Why do NORAD’s and Google’s Santa trackers show two different paths? Because one of those is a decoy sled driven by our intern Josh, who draws any possible missile fire away from us.— Angry Santa Elf (@angrysantaelf) December 24, 2019
However, if you find yourself doubtful of either or both of the online trackers, the Post notes: “You can always look up at the night sky to see if you can spot Santa and his reindeer yourself.”