Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Actual Shooting Star, Receives Namesake Asteroid on Birthday
He's a shooting star, leaping through the sky... so don't stop him now!
On what would have been music icon Freddie Mercury's 70th birthday, Brian May, Queen guitarist and astrophysicist, announced that an asteroid orbiting the planets Mars and Jupiter has officially been named for the band's beloved frontman, who died on November 24, 1991.
Teaming up with the International Astronomical Union in Montreux, Switzerland, May made the announcement on Monday, September 5.
"I’m happy to be able to announce that the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center has today designated Asteroid 17473, discovered 1991, in Freddie’s name, timed to honor his 70th birthday," May revealed in a statement, per Rolling Stone. "Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury."
The asteroid, which circles the sun at 20 km per second, is located over 350 million km away from Earth, which means that, unlike the culture-shifting music and career of the man himself, Freddiemercury will never threaten our planet with impact.
"Where is Freddie’s Asteroid? It's in the main Asteroid Belt, out between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is about 3 and a half km across," May added. "It's like a cinder in space as many of these asteroids are... You need a pretty decent telescope to see it. It’s just a dot of light but it’s a very special dot of light and maybe one day we'll get there."
Mercury isn't the only rock superstar to receive a gift of cosmic proportions this year: Back in January, an entire lightning bolt-shaped constellation was named for the late David Bowie, who passed away on January 10.
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