Looking for help: Determine speed of Mt Wilson drone from Tesla footage?

sigmops

Active Member
A redditor on r/UFOs recently posted footage of an object that flew over a Tesla that was driving from California's Mt Wilson around dusk on Sunday June 25, 2023.
The driver became aware of the object after it stopped some distance ahead of them, but it (along with a second drone) was captured by the car's two rear-facing and one forward facing camera. The driver was then able to save the previous 60 seconds of footage recorded by the Telsa. My understanding of the footage from these cameras is that they are syncronous with one another and all of the calculations assume this.

The redditor's ( /user/ArbiterOfNothing ) post can be found here:


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/14lqnez/multiple_tesla_cams_catch_a_strange_object_moving/


The first video they posted was a montage of clips from the three cameras however they later uploaded the original 60 second files from each of the three cameras here (the drone can be seen around the 30 second mark):

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19Q9DIk1Kssa-KkMykM7-9fpp6NFrL-Fd?usp=sharing

The location in the video appears to be near this bend on Mt Wilson Red Box Rd, with the car travelling North-bound:

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.242...WqSnHIXDApAbng-g!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

tesla_landmarks_marked-up.png

Using measurements taken from google maps and timestamps from the videos I am trying to determine the speed of the drone.

The only locations I feel are appropriate to use for judging distance are the trees along the shoulder behind the car seen in the file "Tesla Vid Right.mp4" around the 30s mark. And then the area of the shoulder seen in front of the car in "Tesla Videos.mp4" around the 32s mark.

Google Maps gives a distance of approximately 333 feet between them so I have been using that in the calculations.

Depending on the timestamps used I am getting highly variable results.

Firstly the ending timestamp I think is appropriate is exactly at the 32.0 second mark. It is when the drone first appears ahead of the car and seemingly over / past the shoulder. The drone appears to move more after this point but apparently slowing down. Using timestamps after that feels like recording a runner's time not after they pass the finish line, but instead when they slow to a complete stop.

telsa_generous_end_marked-up.png

First appearance of the drone is a small pixel JUST on the very edge of the tree at 30.167 seconds. It isn't clear where the drone is in relation to the reference tree, but doesn't seem like it could be any closer than the tree itself, so this timestamp marks its first possible position. (Note there is another object in the sky, on the left side of the below screenshot. That may be another drone or possibly an airplane, but not the subject of these calculations)
tesla_conservative_start_marked-up.png
32 seconds ending timestamp - 30.167 starting timestamp = 1.833 seconds of travel duration
It traveled 333 ft in 1.833 seconds or 181 feet per second.
333 feet traveled / 5280 feet per mile * 3600 seconds per hour / 1.833 seconds of travel = 124 MPH

I believe this scenario is wrong (not fast enough), but using the most conservative timestamps provides ~124MPH which is apparently upper mid range for a racing drone. (https://dronesourced.com/guides/how-fast-do-drones-fly/)
This calculation uses the timestamp of when the drone first appears next to the starting tree (however I think is probably approaching the tree from some unknown distance behind, which would increase the distance traveled).

The following image shows the timestamp of 31.194 where the drone appears near the same part of the tree at the same timestamp in both rear views. Is it passing within feet of the top branch? Or is it back farther and above the tree? Or maybe much closer to the car than I am assuming. Possible to triangulate its position?
tesla_generous_start_marked-up.png
32 seconds ending timestamp - 31.194 starting timestamp = .806 seconds of travel duration
In this scenario it traveled 333 ft in .806 seconds or 413 feet per second
333 feet traveled / 5280 feet per mile * 3600 seconds per hour / .806 seconds of travel = 282 MPH

Using the most generous starting timestamps the fastest speed is ~282MPH which is faster than the world record of 224MPH set in Jan of this year. ( https://gizmodo.com/ryan-lademann-new-record-for-the-worlds-fastest-drone-1850000565 ). Surely that isnt possible?

Its likely, knowing me, that these numbers are totally wrong or if not, that the true speed is somewhere in between the two. Am hoping to get a second opinion.

I am also wondering if it is possible that the drone is going even faster because the distances used are assuming that the drone is starting from approximately the height / location of the starting tree. I am thinking that someone piloting a racing drone would fly above the trees so to not risk a collision. If the drone is significantly higher than the starting tree, then I am wondering if the starting location might be pushed back? This could significantly change the distance traveled and speed.
 
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To my eye, the right-hand car camera shows the drone slightly farther to the left relative to the tree than the left-hand camera does. (Edit: looking backwards, i.e. the "right-hand camera" is actually mounted on the left side of the car facing rearward.)
SmartSelect_20230630-224641_Samsung Internet.jpg
If that's true, parallax dictates that the drone is closer to the car than the tree, in these images.

If you know the baseline (the distance between the cameras) and the position of the car and some objects in the scene, you can find an approximate position of the drone with some maths or a scale drawing.

Note that distance estimates of a white dot, made off a single image, are deceptive, and should not be relied upon. (That comes up time and again with UFO sightings.)
 
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My first impression:
The first object is a distant aricraft, possibly with a short contrail

-It appears bright because it's reflecting the sunlight in the distant sky, while the car is in the shadow of the mountains.
-It first comes into view because the car is turning and going up hill. The slope gets steeper, the car nose rises... and we see more of the sky. Or the car tilts more through the turn. Much the same thing.
-It moves through the frame because the car is turning.
-There's an optical illusion due to parallax effects, making the distant plane look as if it's moving across our line of sight quickly. But if you were standing there, it would look like a distant plane.

-The close objects such as the trees move across our line of sight quickly which gives the whole scene an illusion of lateral speed.
-The trees are moving through the frame too but we know they are fixed objects. So we judge the plane as moving quickly because the distant plane has a rapid relative motion relative to the nearby trees. But note that the plane is not moving in relation to the distant mountain.

-Once again, if we were just standing there we wouldn't see anything strange. All the apparent motions across our line of sight are due to the car turning. The illusion that the mystery object has a high apparent speed across our line of sight is due to parallax effects. Close objects versus distant objects.
 
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To my eye, the right-hand car camera shows the drone slightly farther to the left relative to the tree than the left-hand camera does.
SmartSelect_20230630-224641_Samsung Internet.jpg
If that's true, parallax dictates that the drone is closer to the car than the tree, in these images.

If you know the baseline (the distance between the cameras) and the position of the car and some objects in the scene, you can find an approximate position of the drone with some maths or a scale drawing.

Note that distance estimates of a white dot, made off a single image, are deceptive, and should not be relied upon. (That comes up time and again with UFO sightings.)
Or is the tree much closer to the car than the distant dot?
 
I don't know what the object in the rear facing cameras is but - if my notion is correct - could it be unrelated to the first?
 
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Testing my idea
First Frame in which the object is visible versus last frame.
First Frame.png
Last Frame.png
This test makes it clear that as far as the trees go, perspective is more important than parallax. The trees are getting "bigger" as they come closer, therefore the edges of the trees are moving laterally across our line of sight.

Meanwhile the plane has shifted a bit to the right relative to the mountain. I think that means that the mountain is closer to the car than the plane. I'm still working out whether the shift to the right makes sense.

Edit: No, the shift means the dot is closer to the car than the mountain is.
 
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-It moves through the frame because the car is turning.
-There's an optical illusion due to parallax effects, making the distant plane look as if it's moving across our line of sight quickly. But if you were standing there, it would look like a distant plane.
I assume we are talking about the footage from the car's front camera. Would the tree branches which are at a similar position not also move via parallax as the bright object does? I refer to how the bright object swings down in a curve into the frame. I assume that is the object that appears in the left mirror video around the 30 second mark surpassing the car and entering the frame.

Also
Testing my idea
First Frame in which the object is visible versus last frame.
The pole on the side of the road also experiences parallax movement relative to the bright object. That might be used to calculate its position as well.
 
Meanwhile the plane has shifted a bit to the right relative to the mountain. I think that means that the mountain is much closer to the car than the plane. I'm still working out whether the shift to the right makes sense.

No, the shift means the dot is closer to the car than the mountain is.
How much would the aircraft have moved? I have computed elsewhere that a typical airliner moves roughly 4 times its own length in 1 second.

A redditor on r/UFOs recently posted footage of an object that flew over a Tesla that was driving from California's Mt Wilson around dusk on Sunday June 25, 2023.
When was "dusk" in Mt. Wilson?
Article:
SmartSelect_20230701-003151_Samsung Internet.jpg

20:07 PDT = 2023-06-26 03:07 UTC

Location is N 34.2427543, W -118.0919527 per the OP.
 
First frame the object is visible versus last frame in which the object and the pole are both visible.
First Frame.png
vlcsnap-2023-06-30-15h31m57s168.png
The dot has moved to the left of the pole. If this is due to parallax rather than proper motion, the dot is farther away from the car than the pole.

The apparent "drop" of the object could be due to a perspective effect. As the trees get closer, their apparent size increases. As this happens their top edges "move upward." The top of the bigger tree has "moved" above the object. Making it appear that the object has dropped. But note that it's still at the top of the frame.

Note also that the object has not gotten "bigger." That suggests it is not a close object moving toward the camera.
 
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Maybe the front and rear cameras caught two separate airliners following the same flight path?
 
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The driver became aware of the object after it stopped some distance ahead of them, but it (along with a second drone) was captured by the car's two rear-facing and one forward facing camera. The driver was then able to save the previous 60 seconds of footage recorded by the Telsa.
What happened to the second drone?
 
Without commenting yet on the identity of this particular UAP, whatever it is, I am glad to see that for once multiple cameras simultaneously captured an object. Under conditions where the separation between the cameras is known. The bane of virtually all UAP videos is the lack of any way of determining the distance from the camera to the object. So bugs/birds/bats only tens of feet away can be declared to be vast craft flying at amazing speeds miles away.

The “Skinwalker Ranch - Season 4 Episode 10 - 3600 MPH UFO Claim” thread is a perfect example of those who are very careful to not collect TOO MUCH information. Least the nonsense they are spouting is revealed. How simple would it be to have two cameras, a carefully measured few hundred feet apart, pointing in the same direction? To allow for rudimentary calculation of the distance to the suspect object.

Even Avi Loeb’s attempt to “scientifically” capture images of UAP’s appears to be based on single camera, not stereo camera, setups. Maybe with cameras of different types present, but carefully placed only feet away from each other so they all are looking along the same line of sight.

But to remain on-topic, my impression of the images from this video is that the object is simply too bright. Look at the range of brightness across the image, the light gray of the sky, the medium gray of the mountains in the distance and the dark gray of the trees along the road. Then the very pale gray, almost white, of the object. What is the source of illumination that would make the small object (if it is small and nearby) look so bright? Even the white sign on the pole by the roadside is dim by comparison to the object. Only the sun shining on an airliner at high altitude, where the sun has not yet fallen below the horizon, would look as bright as this. That’s no drone, and it is not at all close to the cameras.
 
Thanks for the replies

Maybe the front and rear cameras caught two separate airliners following the same flight path?

I dont see how the light that travels over the car could be a plane. Even accounting for parallax and maybe some fish-eye distortion from the lens.
It moves too fast, also the various tree branches that move through the same parts of the frame do not get significantly distorted, such that their motion also swings through the frame.

Wondering if we arent talking about the same thing, maybe its just not visible enough? Here is an enhanced video from a different redditor:


Source: https://old.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/14n60fg/enhanced_sighting_from_tesla_cameras/


What happened to the second drone?
The second "drone" could well be a plane, I just feel like it moves faster than I would assume a plane to. So I am making the assumption it is a smaller object closer to the observer. That second object can be first seen in the "Tesla Vid Right.mp4" at 15seconds and it gradually moves over the two mountains that look like humps on a camel. That direction is SE of the Tesla.


Source: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DllNmXHniKzd8OP2uC6X4aWpMOIRfRsY/view?usp=drive_link



What is the source of illumination that would make the small object (if it is small and nearby) look so bright?
I dont have much experience with them but surely drones can be equipped with bright lights. Not sure if you watched the video, but the light that passes over the car, first emerges from behind a tree and quickly overpasses the car at high speed.
 
What is the source of illumination that would make the small object (if it is small and nearby) look so bright?
We don't know the exact time, and therefore don't know the state of the sun. Maybe it doesn't take much height for a drone to be out of the shadow of the westward mountains.
 
We don't know the exact time, and therefore don't know the state of the sun. Maybe it doesn't take much height for a drone to be out of the shadow of the westward mountains.
You mentioned earlier that the two identically timestamped frames from both rear-view cameras suggested some parallax, that implied that the light might be closer to the car than the tree. The top of that tree is not extending out of the shadow of the mountain and being lit by the sun. Would that not imply that if that object was being lit, that it is significantly higher than the tree? And therefore when it is first seen at the 30.167 mark of the right mirror's footage, it would have to be behind the tree, thus increasing the distance traveled and the speed?

That's the thing with an airplane explanation, the higher up the object is and the further it is from the camera, then the faster it must be traveling to surpass the car in less than two seconds?
 
Moving on to the rear-view camera scene.... This is complex. Is the apparent movement of that dot real, or is it caused by the car turning? Is it a close small object, or a distant larger object?

The car isn't just passing by things on the side of the road... it's also turning.

View from side window of car traveling straight down the road.



The merry-go-round is just turning.


In the rear-view camera scene we have both motions to account for. Four motions, really, because the car is moving forward and also pitching, rolling and yawing.

Also, the merry-go-round video doesn't show anything really distant in comparison to closer, fixed objects.

There's a further complication. It's an artificial view. In real life our eyes would be moving. The camera is fixed and shows an artificial view which is strange even in the most ordinary situations.




The rear-view camera video in this case shows a very complex scene. We'll have to do some more analysis to really work through it.
 
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I've been looking for some fixed camera footage on mountain roads. The complication is that most driving videos have the camera on the driver's head. This is a camera fixed to the car.

This is sped up so I recommend playing it at 0.5 speed. Watch the clouds. This will give us some practice in perceiving motions caught by fixed cameras on mountain roads.



Looking for a fixed rear camera view. That's going to be challenging, I think.
 
I've been looking for some fixed camera footage on mountain roads. The complication is that most driving videos have the camera on the driver's head. This is a camera fixed to the car.

This is sped up so I recommend playing it at 0.5 speed. Watch the clouds. This will give us some practice in perceiving motions caught by fixed cameras on mountain roads.



Looking for a fixed rear camera view. That's going to be challenging, I think.

This is helpful. Thank you
Tricky thing about this, like you said, is the rear view footage, coupled with the object traveling along the same direction of the car and surpassing it.

I feel like the best way is what Mendel says:
If you know the baseline (the distance between the cameras) and the position of the car and some objects in the scene, you can find an approximate position of the drone with some maths or a scale drawing.
Making a scale rendering with accurate dimensions of the car and road, then triangulate the position of the object from the positions of the cameras. Wonder if even after modelling all that out, would the lens curvature still need to be accounted for?
 
Looking at the above video, I can see that I haven't taken something into account. A car turning through a corner like this is not a smooth motion like a merry-go-round. The car is turning left in general, but it's turning more or less left throughout the left turn. The front of the car is wagging, so to speak.

More precisely the yaw attitude is changing.

That affects what we see too.

This is yaw...
 
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would the lens curvature still need to be accounted for?

The viewing angle of the Tesla front camera is not as wide as the Navman dashcam, meaning you might not capture the lead-up to potential incidents coming from the left or right. The Tesla camera has a 60-degree viewing angle compared to 160 degrees on most dashcams today.


The rear camera on the Tesla, however, provides a wider view, which makes sense when its primary purpose is a reversing camera. With close to 30 per cent of accidents occurring from the rear, this is excellent to have.
Content from External Source
https://www.carexpert.com.au/car-reviews/tesla-dashcam-review-comparison

That's not super-helpful for the rear cam, and note that this is from 2020, so they may change it.
But it's what I found.
 
I dont see how the light that travels over the car could be a plane. Even accounting for parallax and maybe some fish-eye distortion from the lens.
It moves too fast, also the various tree branches that move through the same parts of the frame do not get significantly distorted, such that their motion also swings through the frame.

Wondering if we arent talking about the same thing, maybe its just not visible enough? Here is an enhanced video from a different redditor:


Source: https://old.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/14n60fg/enhanced_sighting_from_tesla_cameras/

Let's talk about the rear view camera view only. It's important to note that these "enhanced" views are cropped. Which both takes the rear view camera scene out of context and exagerates the speed of the apparent motion.

This raw video should clarify the situation. It is both full frame rather than cropped and shows that the object was visible at two different times.

This is from the right rear-view camera. The object first becomes visible at 0:15 and then disappears at 0:20 when it disappears behind the tree on the left side of the frame. In this section of the video it is much more clear that this is a distant plane shining in the sunlight. It appears bright because the car is in the shadow of the mountain. So there is a lot of contrast.



Then becomes visible again at 0:30. This is the full frame version of the short "enhanced" video.
 
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Found some drone footage of this area from 2016. The drone in this older footage takes a path along the road in the same direction the Tesla is traveling. Unlike the footage of a possible drone that is being discussed here, this drone is not travel all the way to the bend in the road and appears to travel much slower.

Might be useful to help visualize the area better. (For one thing, it shows that the mountain providing the shadow onto the road is quite high)


Source: https://youtu.be/sQJo2QhzHkc?t=49
 
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shows that the object was visible at two different times.
Could you mention timestamps of the two times?

The object I mean to discuss appears at the 30second mark under the car's mirror by the roadside trees and quickly moves up and to the right before the body of the car obscures it. It is not visible in any resolution lower than 720 (at least in that youtube upload). The videos downloaded directly from the owners google drive appears better quality.

See this zoomed clip i just screen-captured of stepping through the frames (hope it works)
 
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My YouTube video has less resolution than the raw video, so it might be best to download the the file hear:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19Q9DIk1Kssa-KkMykM7-9fpp6NFrL-Fd

Anyway...
Visible from 0:15 to 0:20
And again at 0:30
Pretty sure that's what i originally called a second drone, but could be a plane?

Are you talking about the object on the left of the below image? Just to be clear, I created this post to discuss the light on the right side. (maybe I am confused and we are talking about the same thing)

2023-07-01_16-07.png
 
Right Rear View.png

I see...

It's becoming clear that this sighting involved multiple distant planes. They were probably following the same air corridor; a designated region of airspace that an aircraft must remain in during its transit through a given region.

We'll call them:

-Plane in front-view camera - Airplane Number One

Rear-view camera planes:
-Second Drone - Airplane Number Two

-Mystery Object - Airplane Number Three

I've ordered them as such because I think they are in a line; with Number One the closest to the car and Number Three the most distant.

Whether the plane visible from 0:15 to 0:20 is Airplane Number Two or Airplane Number Three... I can't say.
 
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We'll call them:

-Plane in front-view camera - Airplane Number One

Rear-view camera planes:
-Second Drone - Airplane Number Two

-Mystery Object - Airplane Number Three
Good idea with the names

I appreciate you taking a look at this.

Sorry, I am realizing now that my initial post could have been much more clear.

As far as my viewing goes, and my speed calculations, I am assuming Airplane Number One and Airplane number three are the same.

I am also assuming Airplane Number Three is visible in "Tesla Vid Left.mp4" at the 31 second mark appearing under the mirror and traveling in the frame upwards and to the right.
 
So the narrative seems to be that the Mystery Object was following the car, passed over the car, and became visible in the front windshield. It then stopped and reversed direction and passed over the car in the opposite direction it had been traveling.

I think:

-These are two different objects which have been assumed to be the same object.
-The apparent motions are due to the motion of the car.
-Parallax effects involving the motion of the witness/camera, and nearby objects versus distant objects cause an optical illusion which make a large distant object look as if it's a close object moving past the witness/camera at great speed.

These are all common elements in solved UFO sightings.
 
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I am still unconvinced that the rapid movement of the light through the frame is due to some combination of parallax, lens distortion or vehicular motions.

Airplane three moves from the orange sunset portion of the sky into the blue/gray portion within a second. Seeing how an airplane and the sky are often miles away from the observer, parallax movement between a plane and the sky should be minimized and only real motion percieved (when comparing a plane and the sky).

Airplane Three in "Tesla Vid Right.mp4" moves completely independently of the trees it appears to pass by.
If parallax movement tells us that given still objects, the perceived motion between them due to the perspective change of the observer, the nearby object would move more rapidly than the more distant one.

If parallax were to be the culprit behind Airplane Three's movement then wouldnt one have to argue that the airplane is closer than the trees it is being compared to?
 
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Okay, I'll take another look at the raw footage from both rear-view cameras. I'm working this out in real time, so it's not a settled question

A test will be if what I'm calling Airplane Number Two and Airplane Number Three have the same apparent motion.
 
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Okay the first thing I can say for sure is that what I'm calling Airplane Number Two is the Airplane visible from 0:15 to 0:20. It becomes visible again after it clears the tree, and remains visible as Airplane Number Two.

What may be happening with the Mystery Object/Airplane Number Three:

A combination of three things:
-The car is turning.
-The pitch of the car is changing. Tilting.
-A perspective effect involving the apparent size of the trees.

Not parallax but perspective. As the car moves away from the trees the image size of the trees is shrinking rapidly. This is making it look as if the Mystery Object is rising higher above the horizon. But it's not. The trees are getting "lower" in relation to the Mystery Object.


This might mimic the familiar perspective illusion that an object in the sky moving toward us is getting higher above the horizon.






Is the Mystery Object appearing higher and higher above the horizon or are the trees getting "shorter"? And what about the car pitching?
Mystery Object Lower.png
Mystery Object Higher.png

The next step is to put some horizontal lines between Airplane Number Two and Airplane Number Three to see if their relative position stays the same or changes. And to compare Airplane Number Two to the ground in each shot to see how it moves.

But...

Just looking at it... the relative position of Airplane Number Two and the Mystery Object seems to be changing. That might indicate a proper motion.

This is going to take more analysis though, especially to check if there is some distortion of the image. That might come from the way the image is processed rather than lens distortion.

But it will have to wait, because I'm getting tired.
 

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I'm going a different way.


Airplane One and Airplane Two are very likely distant aircraft. Airplane Two especially moves very consistently with the motion of the car. The only other thing it might be is a bright astronomical body. I think Jupiter would be the only viable candidate, I think that's pretty unlikely though. We can't check because we don't have a time and date. Does someone know the exact time and date?

The Mystery Object is not an aircraft because it's showing proper motion. Two deciding factors:

-The view from the left rear-view camera. The object goes past the left rear-view mirror. This could not be caused by a perspective effect. This motion might be explained by the nose of the car pitching up, but...
-The view from the right rear-view camera eliminates pitch as a cause. The motions of the Mystery Object and Airplane Number Two don't match. They should match if they are both distant aircraft.

What it is not:
-Insect. None of the trees have sunlight on them. An insect high enough to catch the Sun could not have this high apparent speed. This is not an insect in sunlight.
-Drone. In this light you would see the structure of the drone. Not a streak of light.
-Aircraft. Apparent speed is much too great for the small apparent size.

The most likely explanation to me is that the Mystery Object is a twilight meteor. It wasn't visible in the sky previous to this, although I think it would be at times if it had been there during the previous 30 seconds. It seems to grow brighter as it comes closer. It appears to move from east to west, which is consistent with a sunset meteor. Not a bolide. Just a short lived meteor. It probably lasted about a second.

Coincidentally, there happened to be a distant aircraft to the north which was captured by the front camera. If it were moving east to west, the inferred flight path of the object wouldn't really make sense.
 
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Venus is easily visible in the Southern California sky right now. It can even be seen prior to sunset when conditions are right.
 
Venus is easily visible in the Southern California sky right now. It can even be seen prior to sunset when conditions are right.
Correct me if I am wrong, but looking at sky maps it’s showing that Venus is visible at dusk currently but in the Western sky. In these videos the Western sky is obscured by the mountain on the left of the Tesla which is traveling N-NE.

Even if Venus was overhead of the car I doubt parallax or lens distortion could make it appear to surpass the car and travel over top appearing in multiple cameras.
 
...Venus is visible at dusk currently but in the Western sky.
Right. Venus is an inferior planet and cannot be in the eastern sky at sunset.

But someone please double check my compass directions. I'd just like to eliminate the chance that I've made an error.

Even if Venus was overhead of the car I doubt parallax or lens distortion could make it appear to surpass the car and travel over top appearing in multiple cameras.
We're talking about Airplane Number Two, not the Mystery Object.
 
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