Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer for the band Queen, once sang: “I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky.” Turning lyrics into reality, the rock legend now has a hunk of space rock named after him. The International Astronomical Union has renamed asteroid 1991 FM3 as (17473) Freddiemercury. Bandmate Brian May, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and his own eponymous asteroid, announced the change online September 4, one day before what would have been Mercury’s 70th birthday. The asteroid was discovered in 1991, the same year that Mercury died.
The asteroid named after Mercury (no relation to the planet) sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the 3.4-kilometer-wide rock loops around the sun once every 3.69 years. Mercury joins a long list of celebrity musicians to be immortalized with a small piece of the solar system, including Louie Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and all of the Beatles (John, Paul, George and Ringo).
Watch a video of the announcement on YouTube.