Queen’s guitarist Brian May, who is also a astrophysicist, revealed the news in a video.
“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. “Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury.”
The asteroid orbits between Mars and Jupiter and never comes closer than 350 million kilometers to Earth.
“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.”
Southwest Research Institute director 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.”