Asteroid Named for Rock Star Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury performing with Queen in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1977. (Image credit: Carl Lender / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons)

Astrophysicist Brian May, who in a previous life was the lead guitarist for legendary 1970s British rock band Queen, released a YouTube video on Sunday announcing that an asteroid has been named after Queen's singer Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991.

"You have to have 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 in the video.

RELATED: Freddie Mercury's Incredible Singing Voice Explained

The asteroid, previously known as Asteroid 17473, is about 2 miles in diameter and orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The asteroid's new designation was made by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, located at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.

The asteroid was discovered in 1991 and was renamed on Sunday, Sept. 4, the day before what would have been Mercury's 70th birthday. Word of the asteroid's new name was reported on Tuesday in The New York Times.

See video below:

Originally published on Discovery News.

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Irene Klotz
Contributing Writer

Irene Klotz is a founding member and long-time contributor to She concurrently spent 25 years as a wire service reporter and freelance writer, specializing in space exploration, planetary science, astronomy and the search for life beyond Earth. A graduate of Northwestern University, Irene currently serves as Space Editor for Aviation Week & Space Technology.