The largest privately owned telescope in the world resides just about 10 miles east of Charleston in Westfield, and the man who constructed it has allowed EIU students to reap the benefits of his ingenuity.

Robert E. Holmes Jr. -- an astronomy hobbyist who has parlayed the pastime into a career -- recently completed the construction of a 50-inch (size of the mirror) telescope, the fourth in a collection that also includes 24-inch, 30-inch and 32-inch models, each in their own outbuilding on his property. His status as an adjunct professor, his work with Jim Conwell (the physics professor who built Eastern's own observatory) and a Web-based microwave link between his observatory and the Eastern campus make for a strong collaborative effort between Holmes and the university.