Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
On the occasion of his 70th birthday, Freddie Mercury received a cosmic boost when on September 5th, ‘Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury’ was officially named for him. The asteroid’s original name was 1991FM3 as Freddie Mercury died in 1991, the same year this asteroid was discovered. B612 Mission Scientist Marc Buie presented the Certificate at Freddie Mercury’s birthday party in Switzerland on September 5, 2016.
So how do you get an asteroid named after you?
Names are approved by the International Astronomical Union, and archived at the Minor Planet Center. In this case, Dr. Joel Parker, asteroid expert and director of the Southwest Research Institute (Boulder, CO) (who also served as the principal investigator for the Rosetta Mission), and Dr. Brian May, our co-founder of Asteroid Day, submitted Freddie Mercury’s name in honor his 70th Birthday. Like May, Parker is both an astrophysicist and longtime musician. Asteroids are currently named for many pop legends, including The Beatles, Brian May, and David Bowie.
If you want to view ‘Asteroid 17473 FreddieMercury’, you’ll just need a basic telescope. To get the quintessential experience, you will need to be listening at the same time to Freddie singing: I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky…