“I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky” – never have truer words been spoken than from the moustached mouth of Freddie Mercury, lead singer in iconic rock band, Queen, on hit single ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, taken from 1978’s ‘Jazz.’
The 5th September 2016 marks what would’ve been the British icon’s 70th birthday, and in celebration, Freddie has been awarded a gift with a legacy arguably as long lasting as his own. In 1991, the same year as the microphone wielding maestro’s tragic passing, an asteroid was discovered, which was affectionately named Asteroid 17473.
In front of a crowd of 1,250 people at Montreux Casino, guitarist Brian May announced that Asteroid 17473 now had a new name – Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury, describing the honour as marking “Freddie’s outstanding influence in the world.” This tribute was marked with an official certificate, where May added, “And so – for its first appearance in public – Asteroid Freddiemercury – happy birthday Freddie!”
Joel Parker, from the Southwest Research Institute, described how this ceremony was a celebration for a “charismatic singer”, adding “you can be sure he’s there, ‘floating around in ecstacy’ as he might sing, for millennia to come.”
Brian May, who, with a PhD in Astrophysics at London’s Imperial College, could be referred to as Dr May, explained to a packed out casino that Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury was located in the asteroid belt found between Mars and Jupiter’s orbits, and that in size it measured approximately two miles across. May likened the asteroid to “a cinder in space”, adding “Viewed from the Earth it is more than 10,000 times fainter than you can see by eye, so you need a fair-sized telescope to see it and that’s why it wasn’t discovered until 1991”
This stratospheric ceremony follows a weekend of tributes to Freddie and celebrations of his life and work in London, which were also hosted by May, who also unveiled an English Heritage blue plaque at Freddie’s childhood home in Feltham, West London.