To mark what would have been Freddie Mercury‘s 70th birthday, Queen guitarist and actual astrophysicist Brian May announced that an asteroid orbiting around Mars and Jupiter has been named after the singer.
“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 said in a statement. “Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury.”
Not content with the Queen singer sharing his last name with a planet, May teamed with the International Astronomical Union to reveal Mercury’s asteroid at a Montreux, Switzerland celebration for Mercury, who died in November 1991, roughly around the time Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne first discovered the asteroid.
As The Guardian notes, Freddiemercury swings around the sun at 20 kilometers per second at a slightly elliptical orbit that never comes closer than 350 million kilometers to Earth; because of its course, Freddiemercury promises to never threaten Earth 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 continued. “It’s like a cinder in space as many of these asteroids are,” said May. “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.”
May is also the recipient of his own Asteroid Brianmay.
Southwest Research Institute Joel Parker added, “Singer Freddie Mercury sang, ‘I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky’ – and now that is even more true than ever before… Even if you can’t see Freddiemercury leaping through the sky, you can be sure he’s there – ‘floating around in ecstasy,’ as he might sing, for millennia to come.”