'Olympic UFO' Bears Striking Resemblance to a Blimp

UFO at the Olympics
A UFO spotted in footage of the Olympics opening ceremony on NBC. (Image credit: NBC)

About a billion Earthlings watched the Olympics opening ceremony Friday night. Did an out-of-this-world spectator tune in as well? A dimly lit, disk-shape object was spotted hovering above the stadium in NBC footage of the ceremony, and the Web has since come alive with exhaustive analysis of this "Olympic UFO."

Several people who spotted the object hovering in the corner of their TV screen Friday (July 27) recorded it and posted the footage to YouTube. The disk appears to have a dome rising from its center, giving it the look of a classic flying saucer. [Video]

"It is clearly not a blimp or a helicopter, so what is it?" a blogger wrote on Examiner.com. "We may never know for sure." But such a dismissal was a tad premature.

Sleuthing by the UFO skeptic Robert Sheaffer, founder of the blog BadUFOs, has turned up high-resolution images of a Goodyear Blimp parading over the Olympics opening ceremony. The images, posted by Londoners to the Goodyear Blimp's "Spot the Blimp" website, show a flying object above the Olympic Stadium that clearly bears a striking resemblance to the so-called Olympic UFO. But what looked like a rising dome in NBC's low-resolution footage resolves itself into the smoothly curving upper half of the blimp. [7 Things Most Often Mistaken for UFOs]

An image posted to the Goodyear Blimp "Spot the Blimp" website. (Image credit: Goodyear)

"Remember that these photos are taken from the website of the Goodyear Blimp. And I think those people know their own Blimp when they see it," Sheaffer wrote. "The resemblance between this object and the unknown object in the video is obvious."

Final confirmation came from Goodyear itself late last night. "Wow we really seem to have caused a #UFO phenomenon!" @goodyear_uk wrote on Twitter. "[S]orry to disappoint guys! We still think a blimp is pretty cool though!"

Still, some UFO believers aren't convinced. One Twitter user replied, "not so sure about that!"

This story was provided by Life's Little Mysteries, sister site to SPACE.com. Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover or Life's Little Mysteries @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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Natalie Wolchover
Former Live Science staff writer

Natalie Wolchover was a staff writer for Live Science and a contributor to Space.com from 2010 to 2012. She is now a senior writer and editor at Quanta Magazine, where she specializes in the physical sciences. Her writing has appeared in publications including Popular Science and Nature and has been included in The Best American Science and Nature Writing.  She holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Tufts University and has studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley.