Astroids named after celebrities

He Will, He Will Rock You

January 19, 2017

The “he” being Brian May of Queen. The “rock” being space rocks, or asteroids.
Astroids named after celebrities
Brian May is the lead guitarist of Queen, a position he has held for more than 40 years. But right before the band came together to produce classic songs like “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” May was working toward his PhD in astrophysics at the Imperial College of London. May dropped out of school when Queen got too successful to ignore. But in 2007, he carved out some time to write and present his doctoral thesis, “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.” In other words, May is not only one of the best guitarists on the planet, but he also knows more about space that most other people.
In 2008, May’s achievements in both fields were honored with an asteroid named after him. In 2016, May helped get an asteroid named after his late bandmate, Queen singer Freddie Mercury. Discovered in 1991, the year Mercury died, May announced the naming on what would have been the singer’s 70th birthday. “It’s just a dot of light, but it’s a very special dot of light,” May said. He added on Twitter, “They already named a planet after you, but this little ROCK is a bonus!”
Naming asteroids after famous people certainly raises public awareness of asteroids, a cause to which May is quite devoted. He’s a co-founder of Asteroid Day, an international effort to get scientists and governments thinking about how to best prepare the planet should it ever be struck by a particularly large asteroid. In December 2016, the United Nations accepted Asteroid Day’s petition, and from here on International Asteroid Day will be an officially recognized observance each June 30.