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​An Asteroid Has Been Named After Freddie Mercury

We will, we will space rock you.

by Becky Ferreira
Sep 5 2016, 4:10pm

Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, Switzerland. Image: Pierre.pu/Wikimedia

Freddie Mercury, frontman of Queen and transcendent being of pure performative joy and vitality, would have been 70 years old this Monday, September 5.

To celebrate the occasion and honor Mercury's enormous impact on pop culture, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially changed the name of Asteroid 17473, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, to "Freddiemercury."

It's a fitting tribute to the man who exuberantly sang that he was "a shooting star leaping through the sky" in the heart-thumping rock rager "Don't Stop Me Now."

Queen's lead guitarist Brian May, who also happens to be an astrophysicist with a namesake asteroid of his own, announced the news to the band's fans via YouTube on Sunday.

Brian May announces new "Freddiemercury" asteroid. Video: BrianMayCom/YouTube

Mercury's asteroid is about three and a half kilometers across, and has an albedo of about 0.3, which means it reflects only about 30 percent of the Sun's light.

"It's a dark object, like a cinder in space, as many of these asteroids are," May said. "It's just a dot of light, but it's a very special dot of light."

The asteroid was first discovered by the Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne, in 1991. That was the same year that Mercury died from complications with AIDS, adding another layer of significance to the rechristening of this far-flung space rock.

Though Mercury is sadly no longer with us, his legacy as one of the most beloved artists of all time is in no way "under pressure," thanks to the enduring appeal of his legendary onstage energy, high-octane vocal abilities, and the close friendships he maintained during his short, meteoric life.

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