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Asteroid named after Freddie Mercury in honor of 70th birthday

The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center has named an asteroid after Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. In honor of what would be the singer’s 70th birthday on September 5th, Asteroid 17473, discovered in 1991, has been named Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury.

Queen guitarist and founder Brian May shared the news on Sunday (Sept 4th).

“This announcement is to recognize Freddie’s outstanding influence in the world,” he writes. “I’m grateful to my dear friend Joel Parker of the Southwest Research Institute (active in the recent groundbreaking NASA Pluto mission and ESA’s Rosetta mission), for working on this idea, and making this happen.”

He also shares the precise location of Mercury’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,” he states. “It has an albedo of about 0.3 – which means it only reflects about 30 per cent of the light that falls on it; like many asteroids, 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.”

“It’s in the main Asteroid Belt, out between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is about 3 and a half km across.”

The band was granted a certificate of “adoption” issued by the International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center for the honor that reads:

“This name is in honor 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.”

The announcement was published in the September 4th announcements of the Minor Planet Center, operating out of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. May recorded the following video that was first shown at the Freddie Mercury 70th Birthday Party in Montreux, Switzerland on September 4th.