Tracking Threats to the Earth: The World’s Largest Privately Owned Telescope Scans the Sky over Illinois


(Westfield, IL) Robert Holmes is not your average stargazer.  He started as a volunteer for NASA in 2006 tracking asteroids and other near-Earth objects with one telescope.

Fast forward to 2017, and he how has four telescopes ranging in size from 24 to 50 inches.  According to NASA, Holmes has the largest privately owned telescope in the world.  And he puts them to very good use.  Using these telescopes and computer software that tracks the movement of Near-Earth Objects (NEO’s) and reports the findings back to NASA.

Once an object’s orbit can be calculated, it’s path can then be determined, reducing the uncertainty of where it will go in the future, reassuring us that they are pose no threat to the Earth.

In tandem with this important work, Robert also has served as an adjunct professor at Eastern Illinois University as well as conducted educational outreach to science and astronomy students in high schools and universities.


NASA is currently planning a mission to re-direct an asteroid to orbit around the moon in a demonstration of planetary defense techniques and sample collections from asteroids. The mission is said to be launched by the end of the decade.

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