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Friday is prime time to view rare alignment of five planets

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A rare five-planet alignment is visible in June, with Friday being the most optimal viewing day, according to Sky & Telescope magazine. Photo courtesy of Sky & Telescope.org
A rare five-planet alignment is visible in June, with Friday being the most optimal viewing day, according to Sky & Telescope magazine. Photo courtesy of Sky & Telescope.org

June 24 (UPI) -- A rare alignment of five planets was expected to reach its prime Friday for the first time since 2004, with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn visible with the naked eye.

According to Sky & Telescope magazine, viewing of this planetary alignment began June 3 and was expected to be most optimal before sunrise Friday.

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"To begin with, Mercury will be much easier to snag, making the five-planet parade that much more accessible," editors of Sky & Telescope wrote in a news release. "And you'll have about an hour to enjoy the sight, from when Mercury pops above the horizon to when the rising sun washes it out of the sky. But the real bonus is the waning crescent Moon positioned between Venus and Mars, serving as a proxy Earth."

The planets are lining up in their natural order from the Sun.

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Another astronomical phenomenon can also be seen this month. The Hercules Cluster, also known as M13, according to NASA, is "one of the brightest globular star clusters in the northern sky."

At a distance of 25,000 light-years, the cluster stars crowd into a region 150 light-years in diameter, according to NASA. The cluster is believed to be approximately 12 billion years old.

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NASA says the constellation Lyra will also be visible during June.

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It represents a lyre played by the musician Orpheus in Greek mythology. It appears in the eastern sky of the Northern Hemisphere a couple of hours after dark.

Lyra resembles a diamond ring with the bright star Vega as the diamond, according to NASA.

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