freddie mercury

Stardom to Stardust

When you’re the lead singer of an iconic rock band, introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and named after a literal planet, you’ve pretty much hit the ceiling.

But when you’re Freddie Mercury, you shoot a little higher — like, shooting star higher.

To honor the 70th birthday of the deceased singer, band mate-turned-astrophysicist Brian May announced the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center officially designated Asteroid 17473 as Freddiemercury.

Mercury died on Nov. 24, 1991 at the age of 45 due to complications associated with AIDS.

During his lifetime, Mercury was the front man for the band Queen, creating immortal songs like “We Are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

After his death, Queen’s popularity continued and he became an important figure in the battle against AIDS and its stigma.

Brian May hopes to continue Mercury’s legacy by naming the asteroid after him.

Mercury isn’t the first to get this honor: Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Brian May himself are the namesakes to other asteroids.

This asteroid is not just special because of its name: it was discovered in the same year Mercury died and was dedicated on his Sept. 5 birthday. May commemorated the special moment at a birthday party for Mercury in Switzerland, announcing it via a YouTube video.

Freddiemercury is too small to see to the naked eye; it orbits between Mars and Jupiter.

“You need a pretty decent telescope to see it. It’s just a dot of light but it’s a very special dot of light and maybe one day we’ll get there,” May said.

While on an average night in North Dakota we won’t be able to see it, Freddiemercury will still be twinkling above us.

In Mercury’s own voice, “I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky.”

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