Jupiter to beam in the night sky this weekend

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Go outside and look up! For the next few nights, Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, shines the biggest and brightest it will all year.

On April 8, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth this year, and this weekend will be the best time to view the giant planet.

To the naked eye, Jupiter will appear as a very bright star, but with a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see the details on the planet and spot its four largest moons.

SEE ALSO: Journey into the cosmos to explore gnarly nebulae
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Take a look at some of the universe's most striking nebulae.

NASA's iconic Hubble Space Telescope will take advantage of this great viewing opportunity and capture new, detailed views of Jupiter. Hubble provides important insight into how the gas giant's extraordinary features -- like its famous Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is larger than Earth itself -- are changing.

The Great Red Spot is mysteriously shrinking, and Hubble is one of the tools scientists use to monitor these changes.

Jupiter and its many moons also form a fascinating mini solar system, and Hubble's rich collection of images and data over the last 26 years offers important clues about whether any of Jupiter's moons -- like Europa -- harbor liquid water and maybe even life.

Data gathered by Hubble compliments other NASA missions that are also looking at the Jovian system.

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