Asteroid Named for Freddie Mercury

By Armand Butera

Freddie Mercury had rightfully cemented his status as music legend long ago as a part of the band Queen, so it’s only fitting that the former front man was awarded a very stellar gift. As of Sept. 4, Mercury was honored with an asteroid named after him by the Southwest Research Institute.

Mercury passed away roughly two decades ago due to complications with the AIDs virus in 1991. However, Asteroid 17473 was discovered that same year.

The asteroid sits right between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, and, as a special tribute, was dubbed Asteroid Freddiemercury. It measures about two miles, and, according to Queen guitarist Brian May, is a fitting tribute to his old friend.

“Freddie Mercury sang, ‘I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky’ – and now that is even more true than ever before,” said May, “But even if you can’t see Freddie Mercury leaping through the sky, you can be sure he’s there – ‘floating around in ecstasy’, as he might sing – for millennia to come.”

May, who was tapped to reveal the special surprise at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland, recently earned his doctorate in Astrophysics at London’s Imperial College. He mentioned at the event that the asteroid itself is somewhat faint when seen with the naked eye, but its dark hue can be admired with a strong telescope.

The special treatment did not end there, however. Mercury’s “outstanding influence in the world” was not overlooked by May or any of the attendees. To truly honor the singer, the unveiling of the English Heritage plaque that accompanied the naming of the asteroid was held in the childhood home of Mercury’s in Feltham, London. It was announced that Mercury would receive his own asteroid on his birthday, Sept. 4.

Mercury would have been 70 this year, but even with his early death at the age of 45 the British singer had a profound effect on music and entertainment. An energetic and eccentric performer, Asteroid Freddiemercury is a thoughtful gift to one of music’s biggest stars.