How does Santa navigate his sleigh?

Santamory has the answer!

santamory2Hello, Santamory here! You know, the one in charge of all the science and technology here at the North Pole.

As you can imagine, navigation is one of the biggest challenges to help Santa get to every house in an efficient and sensible way. Over the years, he’s tried all the latest technology to get the job done.

Before we opened the technology lab here at the North Pole, for centuries Santa had to rely on the stars as his guide. The North Star in particular helped to point his way home. The only trouble was on stormy nights when the clouds were up.

Well… no one can see the stars in those circumstances! One year, the weather was so bad, Santa didn’t make it back until 5th Jan. And even then, one reindeer didn’t return until 26th February!

Inventions such as the Sextant helped sailors to navigate the seas and Santa made full use of these. The elves called it the Christmas Soxtant because when it wasn’t being used Santa would pop a figgy pudding shaped sock over it to keep it dry.

As we all learned more about the world, it was possible to use maps and compasses to plan a route around the globe – a job which took a squadron of elves several months each year writing out the directions on paper.

Fortunately today we make use of much more modern technology to help plan Santa’s route. Our main way of doing this is with GPS – global positioning systems. GPS uses satellites to pinpoint where every house is, and Santa’s position, and computer programmes map out the perfect route!

The only thing Santa needs to remember to do is charge up his sat nav. I can tell you a secret – a few years back – not so long ago, the battery ran down and Santa – had to stop at the Watford Gap Services to get a charging cable.

Fortunately there were quite a few people dressed as Santa that evening, so we think he got away with it. Shhh! Don’t tell though! This year we’ll make sure he’s charged up and ready to go for a smooth delivery.

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The Science of Christmas with support from Institute of Physics, The Royal Aeronautical Society and The Institution of Engineering and Technology.

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