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Kitt Peak in a Tesla

February 21, 2018 Wednesday – Driving from Tucson up to Kitt Peak in a Tesla Model S

Energy graph showing triple consumption while climbing Kitt Peak and 25 miles of gained range while descending the Kitt Peak road
Energy graph showing triple consumption while climbing Kitt Peak and 25 miles of range gained from regeneration while descending

2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy

The reason I wanted to charge the Tesla last night and not have to drive east for 15 minutes to the Tucson Supercharger is that I want to take the 11AM solar telescope tour at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. It takes an hour and 20 minutes to drive westward from the hotel, so driving east to the Supercharger would be inefficient and wasteful of precious time.

I have breakfast downstairs in the hotel, and I’m on the road by 9AM in my fully-charged Tesla. The Model S uses about triple the energy to climb the 1,200 metre (3,400′) elevation change up the mountain, but there is only about nine miles of actual steep climbing. The Model S still has 120 miles of range by the time I reach the summit.

Since I am so early, I am the only visitor for the telescope tour when I meet the Docent in the Visitor Center. She convinces me that the 2.1 meter observatory tour would be a better choice, since the solar observatory is closed, so all we can do is walk around it on the outside. A Docent-In-Training  and a few more people show up before the tour leaves – we all agree to stick with the plan to visit the 2.1 meter telescope.

I take a few photos, but restrict myself to areas of Kitt Peak that I didn’t photograph last year. By 1PM I’m ready to return to Tucson, so I rig up my GoPro Hero 5 Black as a dash cam and drive down the mountain and along the highways back to the hotel. The Tesla gains about 25 miles of range due to the regeneration on the way down the mountain road, so I still have just over 100 miles of range after arriving at the hotel. Since the staff have left the Tesla Destination chargers powered up, I plug in for about four hours to top up the charge for tomorrow’s adventures.

Kitt Peak photos taken 2017 & 2018 – galleryslideshow
Kitt Peak
29 photos
Lots of cactus on the hillside
Lots of cactus on the hillside
First glimpse of Kitt Peak with the observatories on the  ridgeline
First glimpse of Kitt Peak with the observatories on the ridgeline
Diane and Matt at a pull-out part way up the mountain
Diane and Matt at a pull-out part way up the mountain
A panorama of the plains to the north of Kitt Peak
A panorama of the plains to the north of Kitt Peak
Most of the observatories on the ridgeline
Most of the observatories on the ridgeline
The Mayall, Stewart, UofA Spacewatch and Warner & Swasey observatories on the north ridgeline
The Mayall, Stewart, UofA Spacewatch and Warner & Swasey observatories on the north ridgeline
Our tour group with the Steward 2.3 metre observatory behind
Our tour group with the Steward 2.3 metre observatory behind
Inside view of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Inside view of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Yoke of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Yoke of the Mayall 4 meter telescope
Matt, Diane & Reg in the observation deck of the Mayall dome
Matt, Diane & Reg in the observation deck of the Mayall dome
Fisheye view looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Fisheye view looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Looking south along the Kitt Peak ridgeline showing many observatories
Looking SW at the ARO 12m Radio Telescope - Event Horizon Telescope
Looking SW at the ARO 12m Radio Telescope – Event Horizon Telescope
Looking up at the Mayall 4m observatory
Looking up at the Mayall 4m observatory
The 2.3m Steward observatory and the 4m Mayall observatory
The 2.3m Steward observatory and the 4m Mayall observatory
Joe on Kitt Peak with the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope behind
Joe on Kitt Peak with the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope behind
The 0.6m Warner Swasey, the 1.8m Spacewatch,, the 2.3m Steward, and the 4m Mayall observatories
The 0.6m Warner Swasey, the 1.8m Spacewatch,, the 2.3m Steward, and the 4m Mayall observatories
The plains look like seawater
The plains look like seawater
Energy graph showing triple consumption while climbing Kitt Peak and 25 miles of gained range while descending the Kitt Peak road
Energy graph showing triple consumption while climbing Kitt Peak and 25 miles of gained range while descending the Kitt Peak road
Tesla Model S screen showing the route and energy use for Kitt Peak
Tesla Model S screen showing the route and energy use for Kitt Peak
Joe atop Kitt Peak at the Visitor Center plaza
Joe atop Kitt Peak at the Visitor Center plaza
McMath - Pierce former solar telescope
McMath – Pierce former solar telescope
Tesla Model S in the parking lot with some snow
Tesla Model S in the parking lot with some snow
Mexican Jay - one of a pair
Mexican Jay – one of a pair
Mayall and Steward telescopes
Mayall and Steward telescopes
Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT telescopes in the distance with the 0.9m telescope above the rocks
Michigan-Dartmouth-MIT telescopes in the distance with the 0.9m telescope above the rocks
A sparse tour group for the morning tour of the 2.1 meter telescope
A sparse tour group for the morning tour of the 2.1 meter telescope
Inside the dome of the 2.1m telescope
Inside the dome of the 2.1m telescope
Looking north along the ridge line to Kitt Peak summit
Looking north along the ridge line to Kitt Peak summit