Santa Tracker

Click here for LIVE FEED of three webcams - Controllable Christmas lights for Celiac Charity

The grandaddy of Santa Trackers is done by the fine folks at Norad - great job by our man and women in uniform. They chimed in on my christmas blog (entry #432 for christmas/2005) that Santa was inbound to my house with an estimated ETA of 2338 MST (0538 Zulu) and nailed it. While I was already asleep, the next morning I checked the webcam image archive around that time ... and the Big Red Guy is tracked on ChristmasCams #1 and #3 - click on those links to see the video!

Note that I usually turn the christmas lights webcam off at 10:00. However, due to many requests from folks overseas and with permission from my great neighbors, I left it operational all night long Christmas Eve. So even thoough Internet surfers were turning the lights on and off (kinda like a random walk), I had gone to bed around 11:00 ... not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse! ;-)

click to see santa tracker video ChristmasCam#1 is located across the street as can be seen here. Santa approached from the South, landed from the West, walked across the roof and down the chimney the behind and left of the Hulk ... and then departed on a SouthEast track toward Denver. Rudolph's bright red nose made him fairly easy to pick up on the way in and the way out. No sign of Air Defense fighter escort from Norad, but I had Emailed them earlier saying I consider jet noise to be the sound of freedom ... so both them and Santa were cleared for flyby and landing respectively.

In this snapshot, Santa is climbing back into his sled as he prepares to depart. Check out the entire time-lapse sequence.

santa tracker

While ChristmasCam#3 is usually in Santa's workshop, my kids asked that for Christmas Eve, it be moved downstairs as a "Santa Tracker for kids" to keep an eye on the tree and chimney. I explained that Santa moves pretty quick (he has a lot of kids to take care of) and that the webcam is not the best tracker since it only takes a picture every couple of seconds, so I didn't know if we'd be able to see anything. But what 'ya know, we got the Big Red Guy showing up as can be seen in this time-lapse video which has several frames of him in action! Internet surfers are blinking the lights and watch the clock hands move as Santa goes to work ... and he even drinks most of the milk we left out for him. This footage isn't as good - hopefully in 2006, the Christmas Eve Santa Tracker will be "better" ... and here are some more christmas lights videos

2005_12_31 Update: Todd Neff from the Boulder Daily Camera wrote a Christmas Eve article about the physics of Santa. He included a "Parental disretion advised" notice, but the headline writer argueably got a little carried away. Needless to say, since I live in the Republic of Boulder, outraged residents wrote several letters to the editor that were published on December 28th. So I wrote the following which ran on December 31st. Great headline by the Camera and they printed my letter in its entirety (including some subtle attempts at humor) with minor grammatical edits. Unfortunately, the links above to the BDC no longer work (here's /. on the Physics of Santa) but I did keep a copy of my letter which is below.

HO, HO, HO - Yes, Virginia, as my Web cam shows

As a technologist, I enjoyed Todd Neff's piece on Christmas Eve about the physics of Santa; kudos to the Boulder Daily Camera for not just reprinting the AP article, but doing some local embelishment that added a nice touch to the story (and ditto in the Dec. 28 piece about the upcoming leap-second).

As reported by the Camera's Kate Larsen a week earlier (Dec. 17), I have three Web cams (three more than last year! ;-) at my house watching my 26,000 Christmas lights. Needless to say, my 7-year-old and 4-year-old sons were excited to see if Santa would show up on these Web cams. And, not surprisingly, the Big Red Guy (and especially Rudolph) are quite visible stopping by our Lafayette house on Christmas Eve.

So while it would be (way!) out of place for me to weigh in on journalistic reporting as other letter writers have, I thought I would write to say that while Todd accurately reported that the physics of Santa are a challenge, the conclusion is wrong. Yes, sometimes, the paper doesn't get the story right ... and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Santa does deliver presents on Christmas Eve to children around the world.

The magic/miracle is still alive, and I would suggest that Camera readers (and their kids) review the video at to judge for themselves.

And you'd better believe I'll be watching next year as Santa returns at Christmas.