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Rock star Freddie Mercury now has his own space rock

 The Name Game Planetary Science Rock star Freddie Mercury now has his own space rock

The late musician is the most recent celebrity to have an asteroid named after him

By Christopher Crockett 5:49pm, September 9, 2016 movie of asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury

BURNING THROUGH THE SKY Singer Freddie Mercury now has an asteroid named after him. This movie of the rock star’s rock (center) was captured at Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

M. Buie/SwRI, B. Skiff/Lowell Observatory

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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.


International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center

JPL Small-Body Database Browser

Brian May announces Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury 04/09/2016. Posted online September 4, 2016, at

Further Reading

E. Conover. Four newest elements on periodic table get names. Science News. Vol. 190, July 9, 2016, p. 16.

C. Crockett. The votes are in: Exoplanets get new names. Science News. Vol. 189, February 6, 2016, p. 5.

C. Crockett. Ceres mountains and craters named for food. Science News. Vol. 188, November 14, 2015, p. 4.

C. Crockett. A modest Plutonian proposal. Science News. Vol. 187, May 30, 2015, p. 5.

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Rock star Freddie Mercury now has his own space rock


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