AAE (Agrupació Astronòmica d'Eivissa/Ibiza) has captured hundreds of detailed pictures of comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy in its approach to the Sun, using to that end the Cala d'Hort Telescope (TCH). These images show its powerful nucleus enveloped by gases volatilized by solar heat, as well as the first portion of its tail. The latter is formed by these gases as they are thrown away by solar wind.
AAE has used the images to produce a rarely seen, high-resolution animation that shows the movement of the tail during a wide time span and the ripples caused in its gaseous nature by interactions with the solar wind. Jets of material can be clearly distinguished in the video, as they leave behind a long trail that seems to be rotating and describing the aforementioned ripples before finally diluting into space. Dates added to the images allow for the study of the tail's different conditions on different days, its growth and shrinkage, rotation, undulations and other events that can be linked to solar activity and to different stages of cometary evolution.
Around 1200 individual images of 90 seconds exposure were taken during the weather available days between January the 8th and 25th. Instruments used were the TCH - a 20 inches ASA astrograph - and the high resolution SBIG camera attached to it. At the beginning of tracking, Lovejoy was about 198 million kilometers from the Sun and 70.5 million kilometers from Earth. On January the 30th, it reached perihelion.
Unless they were really annoying, frames that show usual satellite streaks have not been removed from the original footage in order to avoid a loss of continuity.
AAE astronomer Ignacio de la Cueva, who led the capture of the images, emphasized that the comet describes an orbit nearly perpendicular to the ecliptic, for the inclination of its trajectory is tilted 80° to the general plane of the planets. Its orbit is highly eccentric, so it will take 8,000 years to have it back to our Solar System region.