The honour was bestowed by The International Astronomical Union, who are the organisation which names asteroids.
Measuring 3.5km across, the asteroid – officially called Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury – was discovered in 1991, the year of Mercury’s death. It orbits between Mars and Jupiter.
Queen guitarist Brian May made the announcement last night (September 4) with a filmed video message to 1,250 fans who had gathered for the official celebration marking Mercury’s birthday at Montreux Casino in Switzerland.
May said: “Published in the September 4th announcements of the Minor Planet Center, operating out of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory), this announcement is to recognise Freddie’s outstanding influence in the world. We have a nice certificate of ‘adoption’ issued by the International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center, which says: ‘This name is in honour of Freddie Mercury, with the following citation: Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara, 1946-1991) was a British songwriter, and the lead singer for the legendary rock group Queen. His distinctive sound and large vocal range were hallmarks of his performance style, and he is regarded as one of the greatest rock singers of all time.’”
Joel Parker from the IAU’s Southwest Institute added: “Freddie Mercury sang ‘I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky’ – and now that is even more true than ever before. Today in celebration of his 70th birthday, an asteroid has been named Freddiemercury in honor of the charismatic singer for the band Queen.”