An asteroid in Jupiter’s orbit has been named after the Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, on what would have been his 70th birthday.
The asteroid was first discovered in 1991, the year of Mercury’s death, and will now be known as “Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury” after receiving special designation from the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre.
Queen guitarist Brian May, who has a doctorate in astrophysics, was instrumental in arranging the gesture, telling Sky News: “We thought it would be a nice birthday present for Freddie.”
A certificate announcing the name says: “Freddie Mercury was a distinguished British songwriter and the lead singer for the legendary rock group Queen.
“His incredible vocal range and distinctive sound and performance style made him one of the most well-known icons of rock music, and he is regarded as one of the greatest rock singers of all time.
In a video to unveil the newly named asteroid, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, May said that although the asteroid was “just a dot of light, it’s a very special dot of light”.
He added: “It is out in the main asteroid belt, beyond the orbit of Mars and inside the orbit of Jupiter. It’s about 3.5km across.”