Today would have been the 70th birthday of the legendary Queen singer, Freddie Mercury. And on this auspicious day, an asteroid has been named after him.
The asteroid chosen is Asteroid17473, which was discovered in 1991 – the year of his death. This honour was granted by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre, which as previously honoured people such as The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen.
The naming of the asteroid was announced by the Queen guitarist Brian May, who spoke at a party in Switzerland.
He said:“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 honour his 70th birthday.”
“Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury. This announcement is to recognise Freddie’s outstanding influence in the world. It’s a dark object – rather like a cinder in space. Viewed from the Earth it is more than 10,000 times fainter than you can see by eye, so you need a fair-sized telescope to see it and that’s why it wasn’t discovered until 1991.”
According to the International Astronomical Union, Freddie was given this honour due to 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 of the Southwest Research Institute, who worked on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission, said: ““The name approved by the IAU is the formal and official name forever to be associated with this asteroid; so, any scientific papers in the future that study this asteroid will refer to it as ‘17473 Freddiemercury’. Even if you can’t see Freddiemercury leaping through the sky, you can be sure he’s there.”