One of the singular aspects of my Biblical Astronomy research has revolved around the Celestial Prelude. I was recently encouraged by Jon Nessle to take a closer look at the historical aspects of Jupiter’s retrograde motion in light of Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunctions, that I believe influenced the Magi so powerfully, as a precedent to the astronomical signs surrounding the birth of Christ. I took his advice to heart because Jon has never steered me wrong, and there are always positive outcomes as a result. I’m so very thankful to Rev. Nessle for inviting me to take part in his ministry work and for our resulting fellowship. It motivates me even more to think that we have only just begun, and I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store!
Let’s do an overview of both the general and specific aspects of the Celestial Prelude. Its General sign, The Coma Supernova as we will see below, was visible for over 250 years, while of signs from 7-5 BC, focus on the triple Conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn during this period. These signs allowed the Magi to recognize the stellar details of the long awaited prophecy of the coming of the promised seed. Also during this same period referred to by Ptolemy, shekels from Judea struck during the period of the second revolt, [135-132 AD] bear the design of a bright star over the Jerusalem Temple, called Bar Kaukab. The leader of the Second Revolt was Shim’on Bar Koseba. He was known as Bar Kochba, meaning “Son of the Star,” in reference to messianic expectations of (Num. 24:17): “There shall step forth a star (kochab) out of Jacob.”
Figure 1. Bar Kochba, Silver Sela shekel coin from 133/134 AD, (Brom. 94) 1
Here the Temple is pictured with the Ark of the Covenant between its central pillars. This coin with the bright star over the Temple is assumed to refer to Shimon the “Son of the Star“ and leader of this revolt, but it could have also been a logical reference to the supernova that appeared in the head of the woman’s son in Coma‘s lap, the desired of the nations, and perhaps even a providential reference to Jesus as the true temple. Why would we even consider this as a possibility? Because the approximate 280 year period of visibility of the Coma Supernova began about 125 years before the birth of Christ according to Hipparchus, near the time of the 2nd revolt, with the appearance of this new Star over the Temple near the Second Revolt in Jerusalem, the impact of this “new star” was such that, one of the leading sages of that time known as Rabbi Akiva, proclaimed Bar Kochba as the messiah. This not only shows the Messianic expectations of this period, but also the impact of this New Star in the skies over Jerusalem, doubtlessly contributing to Shimon’s moniker as “Son of the Star,” commemorated by the coin. It was this kind of Messianic expectation that permeated Jerusalem at the time.
E.W. Bullinger uncovers below, the popular belief regarding this general sign that was prevalent in and before the first century BC: “a traditional prophecy well known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear in this sign [Coma] when he whom it foretold, would be born.” 2 This tradition was at least partially based on Balaam’s declaration in Numbers 24, meaning that Balaam’s prophecy holds, for our purposes, minimally a twofold import.
17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.4
First, Balaam’s revelation refers to the advent of Christ the King, the ascendant bright and Morning Star, who came forth out of Jacob’s genealogical line. This genealogy was marked astronomically by the similarity in the Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunctions surrounding both the births of Abram and Christ. Secondly, there is a celestial double meaning in the phrase: Star out of Jacob, with bearings on both the general and Specific aspects of our Celestial Prelude. The new star, or supernova in the head of the infant in Coma, visible to the naked eye for over 275 years, was the general sign, the Star out of Jacob, that prepared the Magi to watch for the specific aspects of the second part of the Celestial Prelude, which included the Jupiter-Saturn triple unions of 7 BC in Pisces. We find this second aspect of Balaam’s prophecy relating to the scepter as symbolic of the reign of the king planet; Jupiter. As we progress in our study it will become plain that Jupiter was the planet that the Magi referred to as “his Star” in Matthew 2:2. The Magi had noted the triple Conjunction of signs from 7-6 BC, involving Jupiter and Saturn, that gave them a blueprint for the Jupiter-Regulus triple union marking Christ’s birth, starting in 3 BC. An early sign in August of 3 BC motivated them to begin their caravan to Jerusalem. Both of these aspects of the General and Specific celestial signs marking the birth of Christ are apparent in the study on “The Stars Over Bethlehem,“ which provides further details of what the Magi observed in the skies overhead at the Messiah’s birth, both in main constellation of Virgo, and its decan of Coma.
The decan of Coma is pictured below as the three bright stars forming the inverted “L” shape, that significantly contains the North Galactic Pole, located 5 degrees west of Beta Coma. Its interesting in light of the original star picture associated with this decan, as seen in the Dendera Zodiac, of a mother holding her Son in her lap, known as “the Desired of the Nations,”[Hagg. 2:7] [Figures 2, and 3. below].
Figure 2. Coma Decan in the Dendera Zodiac 3
The Prophet Daniel taught the Magi and other astronomers of the king Nebuchadnezzar’s court [Dan. 5:11] about these planetary unions from the contemporary example of a Jupiter-Saturn triple union 523-522 BC in Virgo. Less than 400 years later, near 132 BC a new star as the Coma supernova exploded onto the scene, in a decan of the sign Virgo called Coma. This is intriguing when we remember that much of this tradition was based on the teachings of the Prophet Daniel, who was made the master of the Magi, the Chaldeans and stargazers of the King’s Court in Babylon. He continued to preside over this august group in the reign of Darius I, [Dan. 6:1-3] when the Persians took control of the Babylonian empire. Daniel’s influence on the genuine sect of the Magi, not the Magicians who followed the path occult and Astrology, represented a critical impact on the astronomical doctrines of these Gentile scientists, especially regarding the widely held belief in the general sign marking the coming of the Messiah during this period in history. Obviously the Magi were aware of the truths of the celestial gospel concerning the coming redeemer, since it was their unrivaled expertise in Astronomy that led them to Jerusalem in the first place. As Matthew 2:3 tells us, their reputation clearly preceded them as Herod, and all Jerusalem were troubled at their appearance. Herod seems to hold the Magi’s opinion regarding the star that lead them to Jerusalem, above those of his own scribes and chief priests, which is evident in the secret meeting he arranged with he Magi in Matt. 2:7.
The Biblical references to Christ associated with the Sun as the “light of the world,” the “Sun of Righteousness” [Mal. 4:2] and in Psalm 19: 4-6, are only a few of many such references. Thus, in the case of the promised seed, Zero-ashta, the religion of the Magi served as a vessel for many principles and astronomical precepts, that led mankind to the birth of Jesus Christ as the Promised Seed of the Woman, [Gen. 3:15-16].
Ignatius, one of the Church Fathers and the Bishop of Antioch, in about 69 AD, records that, “At the appearance of the Lord a star shone forth brighter than all other stars.”4 If we are careful not to confuse this reference with the planet Jupiter, we can deduce that this supernova was still visible about 275 years after it was first seen as the celestial marker of the general time frame of Jesus’ birth. Thus, the Celestial Prelude proposes that the Coma Supernova that occurred in the head of the infant “Christos,” nursed by his mother as the General Sign marking the general time-frame of the Messiah’s birth. The close proximity of the Northern Galatic Pole, in Coma recalls the imagery of Cepheus “the crowned king” who regally sits astride the Celestial Pole star polaris, picturing Christ seated in the heavenly temple at the right hand of the Heavenly Father [Eph. 1:20-23]. Seiss has some viable historical references on this point:
“Hipparchus about one hundred twenty-five years before Christ, observed it [Coma supernova] as a new star, and was led by it to draw up his record of stars. Ptolemy, about one hundred and fifty years after Christ, refers to it as having been observed by Hipparchus, but as having become so faint as hardly to be any longer discernible.”5
(parenthesis and emphasis mine) From these key historical notes, we have temporal references from about 125 years before Christ’s birth, extending to about 150 years after his birth; giving us a period within about 280 years of when the Coma Supernova was visible as the General sign of the Celestial Prelude.
Figure 3. Virgo with the Decan Coma-Stellarium 6
The Magi would have witnessed both this new star shining brightly in Coma, a decan of Virgo, while Jupiter was in retrograde, standing still on the Meridian in Virgo, in December of 2 BC. The general sign of our Celestial Prelude thus harmonizes with the specific signs, as the Magi headed south from Jerusalem, their visit with Herod just concluded, towards Bethlehem in search of the promised seed. This also explains why the Magi were the only group to recognize these specific celestial signs of the Messiah’s birth, because the general sign was a fixture in Coma for about 130 years prior to this period. The typical person wouldn’t have noticed anything out of the ordinary in the heavens, because it would not stand out unless coupled with the knowledge of the specific signs, bringing the Magi to Israel in the first place. This is another reason why the Magi were so joyful when they saw “his star,” Jupiter over Bethlehem. This scene of what the Magi beheld in the skies over Bethlehem in December of 2 BC, is depicted in the banner of this article above, and covered in detail in our website article on the Skies over Bethlehem. In Numbers 24:17, when Jacob is referred to in Balaam’s prophecy, it refers not only to the seed of Jacob, but also to the land promised to him as an inheritance, in his Covenant with God [Gen. 15:18]. Francis Rolleston has notable remarks regarding this:
“The Magi forewarned that the star must appear over Jacob, over his inheritance, would see that star in Coma passed over the center of that inheritance: but as it would also appear to pass vertically over every part of it that was nearly in the Latitude of Jerusalem, they could not at once fix on the spot of the Messiah’s birth, therefore they went to inquire; the Latitude, as it were, being given by the star, the longitude by the prophecy.“7 [mazzaroth]
Here we find the witness of the stars, and the Scriptures, working together to bring the Magi to the toddler Jesus, because their alert observation of “his star” brought them to Jerusalem and the scribes declaration from Micah 5:2, when Herod questioned them, sent the Magi to Bethlehem. While en route they witnessed the heavens come alive with the proof that their historic journey was not in vain, because they saw both the Coma Supernova, and Jupiter in Virgo in the same skies over Bethlehem. This puts both elements of the General and Specific Signs of the Celestial Prelude in the same skies observed by the Magi leading them to the birth place of Jesus Christ.
Plate 1. Jupiter in retrograde its triple union with Saturn in Pisces in 7 BC. 8
This initial set of signs indeed set the stage for the actual signs announcing the birth of Christ. The Charts below reflect the signs of 7-5 BC, leading to the signs of 3-1 BC, displaying the principals of the Celestial Prelude. For our purposes here, our main focus will be on the triple Conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn not only from 7-5 BC, but also those preceding it with close proximity to the Coma Supernova in 126 BC, and the Jupiter-Saturn Triple conjunction in Cancer in 146-145 BC. We will consider how these previous Jupiter-Saturn triple unions with their planetary signs, more fully sketch out and establish the signs of Christ’s Birth.
Figure 4. Jupiter-Saturn Triple Conjunctions
Date Time Jupiter Saturn
SEP 10, –581 | 06:56 AM | 000 | 16VI47 | 16VI47 |
|JUL 27, –562 | 12:09 PM | 000 | 07TA33 | 07TA33 |
|NOV 01, -562 | 02:11 PM | 000 | 05TA05R | 05TA05R|
|FEB 10, –561 | 01:21 AM | 000 | 02TA29 | 02TA29 |
|DEC 13, –542 | 10:49 PM | 000 | 03CP51 | 03CP51 |
|DEC 16, –522 | 11:46 PM | 000 | 27VI59 | 27VI59 |
|MAR 14, -521 | 02:10 PM | 000 | 25VI54R | 25VI54R|
|JUL 10, –521 | 05:24 PM | 000 | 23VI07 | 23VI07
SEP 16, –164 | 02:16 AM | 000 | 08SC49 | 08SC49 |
|OCT 18, –145 | 11:50 AM | 000 | 16CA44 | 16CA44 |
|DEC 10, -145 | 12:56 PM | 000 | 15CA33R | 15CA33R|
|MAY 04, –144 | 03:15 PM | 000 | 12CA11 | 12CA11 |
|APR 24, –125 | 08:15 PM | 000 | 02PI14 | 02PI14
The Chart above from Richard Nolle, 9 reflects both “normal” and triple conjunctions of Jupiter-Saturn over the last 600 years leading to the birth of Christ. According to this Chart in Figure 4, above, there were Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunctions in Pisces in 861/860 BC and in 981/980 BC, marking the Temple of Solomon, where both times the proximity of Jupiter-Saturn was closer than 7 BC. The spectacular Jupiter-Saturn triple union in the constellation Cancer that occurred in 146/145 BC, was marked above as -145 and -144 as the others, due to the lack of a zero year on the timeline. The dates and planetary activity of this 146-145 BC triple union that are not supplied in Figure 5, fit in the gap between the 185 and 126 BC Jupiter-Saturn signs as follows:
1. Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Cancer on Oct. 18th, 146 BC, in the Crab’s lower pincer, with the Sun in Libra, Moon in Gemini, Venus at the feet of Virgo, Mars in Capricorn and Mercury in Scorpius.
2. Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Cancer on Dec. 10th, 146 BC, Sun & Mercury in Sagittarius, Moon between the Horns of Taurus, Venus in Libra, Mars in Aquarius.
3. Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Cancer on May 4th, 145 BC, Sun and Mercury in Taurus, Moon in Virgo, Venus in Aries, Mars in Gemini.
When any two planets outside earth’s orbit enter a conjunction, it has the potential for a triple conjunction, where instead of only one flyby the pair of planets can form a triple union over the space of a few months, based on the planet’s retrograde motion. Jupiter and Saturn had “normal” unions or conjunction phases nearly every 20 [19.85] years. Jupiter-Saturn triple unions have a rich astronomical cross-cultural history going back into ancient times.
The “normal” Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Pisces on April 24th, 126 BC is unique to our purpose due to its proximity to the appearance of the Coma Supernova. Since it was Hipparchus about one hundred twenty-five years before Christ, who observed this supernova in Coma as a new star, putting this sighting close to 128 BC. This sighting was confirmed by the Church Father Ignatius in 69 AD. After the Coma Supernova first appeared this notable Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Pisces on April 24th, 126 BC, took place. This Jupiter-Saturn union was one in a series on the ecliptic paralleling the Band of Pisces holding the horizontal fishtail of Pisces. Figure 5 below shows 7 Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions in Pisces from 185 BC to 54 AD, leading to Jesus’ birth. During this Jupiter-Saturn union, Venus also appears in the loop of the Band located at the future location of the June 8th, 7 BC union of Jupiter-Saturn nearly 120 years in advance. The Band with the horizontal fish of Pisces, here embodies a countdown not only to the opening of the Piscean Age marked by this triple union of Jupiter-Saturn, but also the signs marking the birth of Christ.
Figure 5. 7 Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions in Pisces from 185 to 54 AD. 10
According to Bullinger, the Fish of Pisces reflect “the multitude of Abraham’s seed where God compares his future posterity to the stars of the sky, and the sand upon the seashore. This very great multitude of fish [Ezek 47:9] also recalls Jesus with his disciples during his resurrection appearance to them by the sea [John 21:5ff], and the miracle of the 153 fish in the unbroken net. Figure 5 depicts the triple union of Jupiter-Saturn in 7 BC in white letters with the June 8th, 7 BC union in the loop of the Band as Jupiter initiates its retrograde loop with Saturn. In 7 BC in the constellation Pisces, this Jupiter-Saturn triple Conjunction also coincided with the dawn of a new Precessional Age, the Age of Pisces, with a new age every 2160 years. After this Jupiter-Saturn triple Conjunctions, there was a planetary massing of Jupiter-Saturn and Mars, after which followed a key Conjunction involving Mars. This unique Feb. 25th, 6 BC, trianglar massing of planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, was referred to by Kepler; as the “decisive Conjunction of 6 BC that opened our precessional age of Pisces.” As we have noted, Kepler also advanced the idea that the Magi were guided to Judea by the appearance of this series of Conjunctions.
As we have noted, the importance of Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions is also recognized in close relation to the precession of the equinoxes in the Hebrew cosmology evident in Genesis 1:6-10, and the world-views of ancient cultures including, Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt and in Meso-America. According to this pattern, Jupiter-Saturn triple unions occur in Pisces
only once every 800 years. This exhibits how the Conjunction series subdivides the precession, which totals a period of about 25,920 years, because every 30 cycles of Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunctions that occur in Pisces totals the period of 24,000 years, a time close to the full cycle of precession.
Like the ancient Egyptians, the Maya pyramid-building culture of ancient Mexico had a very advanced Astronomy. They had their own version of the 360-day year, called a “tun” and added 5 extra days, called “haab,” considered an unlucky period, regularly. According to Peter Thompkins, the Mayans also; “calculated the orbit of the Earth about the Sun as 365.2420 days, and marked the close of the year by the erection of a stone they called a “tun.” They did likewise for a 20-year cycle or “Katun,” a period they considered governed by the Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.” 11
Thompkins continues saying that; “The Maya had a very special sacred year of 260 days called tzolkin, that the Aztecs called tonalamatl.” This 260-day sacred calendar was “divided into 13 months of 20 days and the multiples of 13 and 20 became the heart of a chronological computation, stunning in its simplicity and exactness. A greater cycle of 260 years was 13 consecutive Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction cycles of 20 years.”12
This greater 260-year cycle based on the cycle of Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions, was also a tool anciently utilized by the Mayans to break down the very long cycle of the precession of the equinoxes. Thompkins states that: the “Maya also had a cycle of 942,890 days, or 2,582 years, that turned out to be 130 Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions.”13 [10 x 13] Twice this 2,582 year cycle [5,163 years], not only gave the equivalent of the greater 260-year cycle of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions, but 100 of these greater 260-year cycles was equal to 26,000 years, often reckoned the length of the precession by the ancients. With Kepler’s recognition of the pattern of Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions and the Mayan tzolkin, we have two culturally distinct and seemingly independent views of how Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions subdivide the precession. Similarities not only in planetary and star names, but also in their symbolism, among widely removed nations in both space and time is a feature so common in the study of Astronomy, that it discounts any idea of mere coincidence. This adds to the mound of evidence favoring what Joseph Campbell called the world monomyth which is the idea that all world mythology is rooted in one Great Epic narrative based on stellar truths, which we contend is preserved in the ancient star names God first gave to Adam and the Biblical Patriarchs [Ps. 147:4]. This age-old system was organized around the continual nesting of shorter celestial cycles, like the precession of the poles, nested as gears within the larger stellar wheels of the precession of the equinoxes, a strategy we find utilized in the construction of the Antikythera Device. This provided the frame-work within which the truths of the celestial gospel were first unveiled to Biblical Patriarchs and later corrupted forming the basis of mythology the world over.
During the time of the rise of ancient Israel, in last millennium BC, there were 43 “normal” conjunctions between the two planets, with at least 7 Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunctions taking place, with varying intervals from 40 years (as from 861 to 821 BC and again between 563 to 523) to 377 years (as between 523 to 146 BC), as seen above. The events following the 7 BC triple union of Jupiter-Saturn are depicted in the chart below [Fig. 6], including other key celestial events leading to the birth of Christ.
Figure. 6 The Celestial Prelude of 7 BC to 5 BC
|Date||Conjunction of Planets||Constellation|
|May 27th, 7 BC||Jupiter-Saturn||Pisces|
|Sept. 15th, 7 BC||Jupiter, Saturn; [ring cycle], Sun & Earth aligned||Pisces|
|Oct. 5th, 7 BC||Jupiter-Saturn||Pisces|
|Dec. 1st , 7 BC||Jupiter-Saturn||Pisces|
|Feb. 25th 6 BC||Triangular massing of Jupiter, Saturn & Mars||Pisces|
|Mar. 5th , 6 BC||Jupiter-Mars Conjunction||Pisces|
|April 15-20, 6 BC||Lunar Occultation||Series|
|Mar. 23rd, 5 BC||Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse/Nova||Virgo|
|Sept. 15th, 5 BC||Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse||Pisces|
Finally, on the heels of this Feb. 25th, 6 BC Conjunction including Mars, in the next month came a remarkable series of lunar occultations, followed by two total lunar eclipses in 5 BC. One of these Lunar occultations has been proposed as the actual Star of Bethlehem recently by, Michael Molnar of Rutgers University. He has drawn attention to a lunar occultation of Jupiter in 6 BC in the constellation Aries. Molnar suggests that this 6 BC occultation was the Star of Bethlehem due to astrological associations, Aries being the ruling star sign of Judea and Jupiter symbolizing a king, with the occultation, and the reappearance of the planet from behind the Moon- symbolizing a royal birth. Although Molnar’s thesis is dubious as to standing on its own accord as the Bethlehem Star, this March 17th 6 BC occultation took place very close to the Sun and just after sunset. Its observation would have been difficult with the Sun only 3 degrees below the horizon, and Jupiter in close proximity just 5 degrees above it. The nearness of this lunar event to the Sun, however is interesting as this exposure of the King planet occurred so close to the Sun as the light of the world.
Another sign that took place around the same time as this Lunar Occultation in Aries was a Nova most likely in Capricorn. Similarly, in mid-March of 5 BC there were Chinese reports that an object described as a Nova was stationary and seen for 2.5 months. Despite its longevity of visibility, the object was not a supernova, which was concluded from the lack of a visible remnant, or radio source. This bright Nova was seen in northern Capricorn or southern Aquila in mid-March 5 BC and chronicled by the Chinese and Koreans. The date (March 5 BC), date falls into the Celestial Prelude period leading to the birth of Jesus, its position in the sky (in the east at dawn) and long duration of visibility (70+ days), make it a key contribution to the Celestial Prelude before the Star of Bethlehem. Being another Nova sign while the Coma Supernova was still visible to the naked eye, only lends added credence to our thesis given that the Magi must surely have observed the importance of this Nova in this Celestial context including this Lunar Occultation.
These preliminary signs from 7-5 BC provided the Magi with the blueprints they would need to recognize the celestial signs identifying the time frame of the birth of Christ. The fact that the signs of this dress rehearsal unfolded over a period in excess of two years was also a clue of what to expect, when the curtain actually arose on the celestial pageantry of the birth of Christ. The Blood Moon Tetrad of 2014-2015 was foreshadowed by lunar eclipses leading to the Rev. 12 sign of 2017 predicting the return of Christ, which we find in the 7th of the 12 traits of the Celestial Prelude. The Jupiter-Saturn triple unions in 7 BC, highlighted by a planetary alignment on Sept. 15th, initiated a pattern of heavenly signs reappearing in September of 5 BC with a pair of eclipses. This embodies the 10th trait of the Celestial Prelude. On 9-5-5 BC there was a partial Solar eclipse, with a Blood Moon Total Lunar eclipse following 10 days later on 9-15-5 BC. These heavenly signs exactly 2 years apart, enlightened the Magi that they should be on the lookout for heavenly signs marking the birth of Christ, in the next 2-years in September of 3 BC– the 8th trait of the Celestial Prelude. [Figure 6.] The fact that these 7-5 BC signs almost all occur in Pisces, is interesting due in part to ancient eastern tradition, that the influence of the sign of Pisces, the fishes presided over the land of Israel most likely linked to God’s promise to Abraham. This included the Pisces symbolism of the House of Jacob, with the obvious presence of the King planet Jupiter, detailing why the Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the King of Israel.
This further evidence provides strong support for the thesis of the Celestial Prelude, giving us a firm footing for the Sept. 11th, 3 BC, Tishri 1 birthday of Jesus Christ!
2. Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed, V.P. Wierwille ppg. 63-64. 3. IBID p. 17.
3 Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids. Peter Thompkins. p.289.
5. Gospel in the Stars, Joseph Seiss
6. Virgo-Coma Stellarium astronomical software
7. The Mazzaroth, Frances Rolleston
8. Graphic video credit on Plate II, from [Bobmoler.wordpress.com]
9. THE JUPITER-SATURN CONJUNCTION GEOCENTRIC TROPICAL ZODIAC) 600 BCE to 2400 CE copyright 1998-1999 by Richard Nolle all rights reserved
11. Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Peter Thompkins
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