Freddie Mercury, Queen's legendary vocalist, has been honored in space by having an asteroid named after him. The revelation of the name came just in time for what would have been his 70th birthday.
In a video presentation on that event, Queen's former lead guitarist and now astrophysicist Brian May announced that an asteroid has been named after Freddie Mercury. The asteroid was formerly designated as Asteroid 1991FM3 but has been designated by the International Astronomical Union as (17473) Freddiemercury, according to Science News.
The asteroid was first discovered in 1991 by Belgian astronomer Henri Debehonge. It orbits the Sun at 20 kilometers per second and is only about 3.5 kilometers in diameter. Because of its orbit and proximity, it is not a threat to the Earth. The asteroid has been discovered in the same year that Freddie died due to complications with AIDS.
"It's like a cinder in space, as many of these asteroids are. You have to have a pretty decent telescope to see it," May said in the video message. The announcement about the asteroid being named in honor of Freddie Mercury has also been posted on Queen's Facebook page, as shown on Nature World News.
The asteroid does not reflect much of the Sun's light, only having a third of it reflected so it would not be easy to spot without the use of a telescope. The asteroid is about 350 million kilometers from the Earth.
Chris Lintott, professor of astrophysics at Oxford and presenter of "The Sky at Night" notes that Freddie is just one of the many artists who have an asteroid named after them. All of the Beatles have their asteroids, as well as David Bowie and Frank Zappa, among others. Brian May has an asteroid named after him as well.
Brian May is also co-founder of Asteroid Day and a campaign aimed at promoting awareness about asteroid threat and what solutions could be made to prevent an asteroid impact on Earth.
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