Opinion pieces and columns

More Galaxies Than You Can Shake A Stick At!


The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies is the closest cluster of galaxies to our Milky Way Galaxy. It is so close that its pans more than five degrees on the sky – about 10 times the angle made by a full moon. (Just think of the size five full moons would be! Holy Moley!)

With its heart lying about 70 million light years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the nearest cluster of galaxies, contains over 2,000 galaxies, and has a noticeable gravitational pull on the galaxies of the Local Group of Galaxies surrounding our Milky Way Galaxy. The cluster contains not only galaxies filled with stars but also gas so hot it glows in X-rays. With a cluster so large, billions of planets are yet to be discovered… and many ARE habitable!


Locate the blue star, Spica, in the southern sky and that’s close to the center of the cluster. The heart of the Virgo Cluster includes galaxies such as Markarian’s Eyes on the upper left, galaxy M86 just to the upper right of center and an elongated galaxy, M84 on the far right. One my favorites is the Sombrero Galaxy – a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way and when observing with a small telescope it actually looks like a sombrero with a big bulge in the middle. Its mass is about 800 million times the size of our sun and interestingly, moving away from Earth at about 621 miles per SECOND…that’s fast!! Better look quick – the closest part of Sombrero is only 31 million light years away. So, you’re looking at an object that is really old!

Thanks for reading, and remember: turn down night lights so that we may look up! Questions? Llsmith47@aol.com

Looking Back

Excerpts from the Whitney Messenger Archives

May 27, 1955
Search Begins For
Miss Lake Whitney


The third annual Miss Lake Whitney beauty pageant is scheduled for June 15 at Lake Whitney.


Entry blanks may be obtained from Catalina dealers or directly from the Lake Whitney Association.


Miss Lake Whitney will be qualified for the state miss universe elimination. The state contest will be held at Lake Whitney June 22-23.


The third Miss Lake Whitney will have a big reputation to uphold. Paula Lane of Cleburne, the 1953 winner went on to win Miss Texas. Margaret Preston, also of Cleburne, was state runner-up last year.


June 22, 1933
$19,000 Loan Sought For School Buildings


Application has been made by the Whitney school board for a loan of $19,000 from the federal government under its new industrial bill, for the purpose of erecting three new buildings on the school property in Whitney. These buildings, according to plans announced this week, are: a teachers’ dormitory, the location of which has not yet been decided, but possibly on the old school grounds on Colorado Street; a modern gymnasium, and a workshop for use of the vocational agriculture class, to include manual training.


None of these projects have been completely planned, pending word to be received from the government, but if the Whitney loan is approved, which is probable, plans will be made and work started on the buildings at once, according to our understanding of the situation. All of the buildings are to be of stone, either brick or its equivalent, and if this project is carried out as planned, Whitney will probably have the most modern and best equipped school facilities and buildings for the size of town in this section of the state.


June 29, 1933
Ye Olde Editor’s Corner


Every now and then something turns up to remind me of “Then and Now.” This was a favorite caption with we editorial priests and prophets some three decades ago; the prevailing theme being a roseate forecast of the golden era of prosperity just ahead- as the automobile was just coming in and the whole nation and world was starting on its big joy ride-and contrasting same with the old, slow “horse and buggy” days just passed.
Old fogies talked about “the good old days” which was amusing, but we knew there weren’t any such days in the past that were worthy of comparison with the days ahead. In fact we were launching on the “bright new day” then dawning that would lay in the shade all past days and times. And they are still dawning- “Every day is a new beginning”- so we’ll let it go at that, and not venture any further prophecy, especially during this excessive heat and in view of our past shady record along this line.