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Asteroid named after late Queen band vocalist Freddie Mercury

/ 01:19 PM September 06, 2016

Twenty-five years after his death, Freddie Mercury is now a “shooting star leaping into the sky, like a tiger defying the laws of gravity.”

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Queen rock band guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May declared in a video that an asteroid was named after Mercury, who was the band’s lead vocalist.

May filmed himself announcing the jubilant news during the asteroid-naming event in Switzerland on Sunday, which coincided with the day Mercury should have celebrated his 70th birthday.  The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center baptized Asteroid 17473 as “Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury” in honor of the late seasoned vocalist.

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The asteroid was discovered by Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne in November 1991, the same month Mercury died due to AIDS complications in his home in Kensington, London. “Freddiemercury” glides around the sun at 20 kilometers per second and its elliptical orbit never exceeds 350 million kilometers to Earth, The Guardian reported. Moreover, the asteroid reflects 30 percent of the light bouncing into its surface, making it only visible through a cutting-edge telescope.

“It’s like a cinder in space as many of these asteroids are. You need a pretty decent telescope to see it,” May, who has a doctorate in astrophysics, explains in the YouTube video. “It’s just a dot of light but it’s a very special dot of light and maybe one day we’ll get there.”

Mercury is the second Queen band member in whose honor an asteroid has been named. Asteroid 52665 was renamed “Asteroid 52665 Brianmay” in honor of May in 1998. The Queen vocalist also joins other legends such as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie, who also have space objects named after them.  Gianna Francesca Catolico

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TAGS: asteroid, Brian May, Freddie Mercury
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