Brian May, who is best known as Queen’s lead guitarist but also has a doctorate in astrophysics, announced that an asteroid — known until now by the less memorable 17473 — was being named in the singer’s honor.
The asteroid is far from the British singer’s namesake planet and is instead in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
May showed a video of the asteroid’s movement on his website, accompanied by Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
The Minor Planet Center, part of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory based at Harvard University, issued a citation timed for Mercury’s birthday on September 4.
“His distinctive sound and large vocal range were hallmarks of his performance style, and he is regarded as one of the greatest rock singers of all time,” it said.
The asteroid was discovered in 1991, the year that Mercury died of complications from AIDS.
Mercury, born as Farrokh Bulsara in what is now Tanzania, remains one of rock’s most influential singers through his flamboyant stage persona and Queen songs such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are the Champions.”