My first night at the Johnny Horne observatory

Astronomy, Astrophotography

By:Mark Gibson(N4MQU)

Back in 2020 I had seen a post on Facebook from my friend Johnny Horne announcing they still had space available for his Digital Photography Fundamentals class at Fayetteville Tech In Fayetteville. I’ve known Johnny for several years thru our common interest in astronomy and we are both members of  Raleigh Astronomy Club. I was very aware of his accomplishments in photography thru his employment as a reporter and his consultant work with various astronomy publications. The course started and we had met for several sessions when the pandemic hit and we had to take a break before the course was completed due to the pandemic. Johnny had promised me a trip to his observatory. The college finally opened back up and we were able to complete the class but I hadn’t got the trip to the observatory.  Early in May 2021 our schedules and clear sky finally cooperated. Johnny was able to make my camera do things I didn’t know was possible. Maybe I knew it was possible but I didn’t know how to do it. Johnny gave my camera and computer a work out. My camera is a Cannon T5i it is a 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor. I had also purchased the program Backyard EOS to use.  He was able to give it the commands required to take the various images we chose for the night.  His results allowed me to gain confidence in my camera and computer. I had tried earlier this year to take some   Afocal photography   with my Celestron 8 Edge HD telescope but the program seem to want to take pictures randomly. He was able to set up the camera and computer to do the things it was capable of doing.  
Johnny’s work included these front cover photographs from Sky and Telescope magazine. These are displayed on his walls at his astronomers quarters.


Sky and Telescope February 1994 November’s Stunning Lunar Eclipse


Back to back front cover photographs from Sky and Telescope May and June 1996

Johnny Horne processing the images

M65 and M66 and NGC 3628 Leo Triplet

25 sixty second exposures stacked… 102mm f/6.9 refractor 30 dark frames ISO 6400 stacked and stretched using Images Plus software and photoshop. No flat or bias frames done due to dead camera battery

Earth shine

Recreational activities

Astronomers must have recreational activities while images are being processed.  Here is an appropriate vintage game.

I meant to get a better picture of this. Johnny served pizza for our evening meal. No I didn’t get a chance to play asteroids.


1979 the year the pier was laid

Mark Gibson inside the observatory

Halley license plate for Halley’s Comet

Thanks to Johnny Horne for his hospitality and willingness to share his knowledge to others in photography and astronomy.