Geoffrey W. Marcy (born September 29, 1954) has discovered more extrasolar planets than anyone else on Earth. He and his colleagues, R. Paul Butler and Debra Fischer, discovered 70 out of the first 100 exoplanets. Marcy also confirmed Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz’s discovery of the first extrasolar planet 51 Pegasi b. Other achievements have included discovering the first multiple planet system around a star similar to our own (Upsilon Andromedae), the first transiting planet around another star (HD209458b), the first extrasolar planet orbiting beyond 5 AU (55 Cancri d), and the first Neptune-sized planets (Gliese 436b and 55 Cancri e).
In 2005, Marcy and Michel Mayor received the $1 million Shaw Prize in astronomy for their work. Marcy has not (yet!) said that winning Wonderfest’s $5000 Sagan Prize means more to him. Give him time.
Throughout his professional life, Marcy has been eager to share his team’s discoveries with the public. David Perlman, senior science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, has turned to Marcy for decades to get fresh insights into astronomy research. “Geoff has always worked very hard to make his work and that of others in the field clearly comprehensible to general audiences,” says Perlman. Marcy is a regular figure in the science cafés of the San Francisco Bay Area. Best of all, he has twice electrified audiences at Wonderfest.