Queen singer Freddie Mercury was honored with an asteroid in his name on the occasion of the late singer’s 70th birthday on September 5.
"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," said guitarist Brian May. "Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury.
“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.”
Mercury died in November 1991, roughly around the time Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne first discovered the asteroid.
“Where is Freddie’s Asteroid ?,” says May, an astrophysicist himself. “It’s in the main Asteroid Belt, out between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is about 3 and a half km across. 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.”
May previously had an asteroid named in his honor in 2008.
In 2014, the guitarist co-founded Asteroid Day with Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, B612 Foundation COO Danica Remy and German filmmaker Grigorij Richters. Asteroid Day is a global awareness campaign where people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet.
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