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Shooting star named after Freddie Mercury to mark his '70th birthday'

Freddie Mercury pictured at Live Aid, at Wembley in 1985. Credit: PA Wire

An asteroid has been named after Freddie Mercury to mark what would have been the Queen singer's 70th birthday.

Mercury's name will be attached to Asteroid17473, which was discovered in 1991 - the year the singer died.

The honour, bestowed by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre, is all the more apt given the "shooting star" lyrics Mercury sang in the hit song Don't Stop Me Now.

Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May unveiled the honour in Switzerland at a party to remember the iconic frontman.

“I’m happy to be able to announce that the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center has today designated Asteroid 17473, discovered 1991, in Freddie’s name, timed to honour his 70th birthday,” he said.

“Henceforth this object will be known as Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury. This announcement is to recognise Freddie’s outstanding influence in the world."

The space rock sits in the main Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is about two miles across.

Viewed from Earth, it is more than 10,000 times fainter than can be seen by the eye.

Joel Parker of the Southwest Research Institute, who worked on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission, and applied for the honour said: "Singer Freddie Mercury sang, ‘I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky' - and now that is even more true than ever before.

"Even if you can't see Freddiemercury leaping through the sky, you can be sure he's there - 'floating around in ecstasy', as he might sing, for millennia to come."