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'Pope Alarm' alerts pope-arazzi when smoke turns white

Not following the live Vatican smoke cam? Sign up online to get instantly notified via text or e-mail when the next pontiff is picked.

A cardinal makes an oath as he attends the Sistine Chapel for the conclave in Vatican City, Vatican.
Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romanov via Getty Images

In case you're unfamiliar with the significance of the color of smoke rising from the world's current most-watched chimney, here's how Ireland's Father Paddy Byrne broke it down in a Tweet awhile ago:

Not going to directly accuse Father Byrne of anything except wacky tweeting here, but it should be noted for noobs to the conclave of Catholic cardinals currently trying to select the pope's successor that only the first two parts are true. I hope. After each round of balloting that doesn't produce a two-thirds majority, a puff of black smoke goes up and out of the Sistine Chapel. Once a new pope is selected, the smoke turns white.

So, that means the true pope-arazzi should have already staked out a prime smoke-viewing spot outside the chapel. But for the rest of us who aren't trained to the live Vatican smoke cam but are maybe just a little obsessed with anything that involves balloting, be it popes or pop stars, fortunately there's Pope Alarm (tagline: "When the smoke goes up, you'll know what's going down").

Created by Focus, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, at, the site allows you to sign up and get notified right away by e-mail, text, or both once the puff of white smoke -- and only white smoke -- is spotted above the Sistine Chapel.

" will only receive a text for white smoke. We don't want to wake you early in the morning for black smoke!" the Pope Alarm Twitter account tweeted earlier.

That's reassuring. Although if green smoke is spotted, I'm sure I join Father Paddy Byrne in saying that's also certainly cause for a late-night text message.

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET