Vicki Oransky Wittenstein, author of Planet Hunter, stands in front of the Keck telescope. Credit: Sarah Anderson. Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths, published in 2010 by Boyds Mill Press, introduces readers to Dr. Geoff Marcy, the first American scientist to discover planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. Throughout this […]Read More >
A native of Italy, Tommaso Treu, now a UC Santa Barbara astrophysicist, earned degrees at University of Pisa and the Scuola Normale Superiore and was a graduate student at the Space Telescope Science Institute. His postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology and as a Hubble fellow at UCLA exposed him to two of […]Read More >
PBS Hawai’i aired Hunting the Edge of Space, a documentary exploring how the telescope has expanded our view of the Universe. The program features planet hunter Geoff Marcy and his search with the Keck I telescope and its High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph, or HIRES, for planets similar to Earth. The documentary is now available to […]Read More >
On a clear, crisp evening, Geoff Marcy will walk outside and gaze up at the San Francisco night sky where he lives. He looks at the stars, but his mind is on the millions or even billions of planets that may orbit them. The distant worlds are so far away that they cannot be seen with the naked eye, but Marcy knows they exist. He can imagine them circling their stars.
Like most people, he wonders whether any of those distant worlds are like Earth. Yet, unlike most people, he has access to the world’s best telescopes, including Keck Observatory, to help answer this question. Marcy has led the way in discovering planets of all types beyond our Solar System, including super-hot orbs larger than Jupiter and icy balls similar in size to Neptune. With Keck, he and his fellow astronomers recently found distant worlds not much larger than Earth orbiting stars similar to our Sun. Such a discovery leads Marcy to believe that within the next few years, they will find the “holy grail” of planet hunting—another Earth.Read More >