Freddie Mercury has been designated his very own asteroid to mark the music legend’s 70th birthday.
The Queen frontman became the highest-profile victim of the AIDS crisis in 1991, when he died from AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia aged 45. He had been diagnosed HIV-positive several years earlier.
He would have turned 70 this week.
Mercury was commemorated this week with a Blue Plaque outside his home… but he was also marked in a way that is truly out of this world.
As he sung in hit Don’t Stop Me Now, the Queen frontman will now leap through the sky like a shooting star.
The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre designated Asteroid17473 as ‘Freddiemercury’ in memory of the legend.
It was discovered in 1991, the year of his death.
Queen guitarist Brian May 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.”
Joel Parker of the Southwest Research Institute 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.”