In once-in-a-lifetime photos, a couple got engaged underneath Comet Neowise – which only soars into our view every 6,800 years.
John Nicotera, 33, and Erica Pendrak, 26, met on Instagram and have been living together for a year-and-a-half. Since Christmas last year, John had been considering proposing, however with quarantine seeing them spending a lot more time indoors, he thought it would be a good test for their relationship.
The stars aligned at the perfect time. With the rare comet flying across the Northern Hemisphere between July 15-23, John and Erica made their way to Old Forge, New York, to watch the celestial event. There, he popped the question.
Discussing the decision to hold off on proposing, John told : ‘Being stuck at home every hour can take a toll on a person, and we had not a single issue. I feel like the honeymoon phase of the relationship might’ve faded away and that was a big test. We both figured out how to deal with each other’s problems, you know?’
The self-described ‘space junkie’ had originally planned to get down on one knee at Crater Lake in Oregon. However, while travelling there wasn’t possible, Comet Neowise emerged as a superior option. ‘This could be our engagement. This is not going to happen in our lifetime or five generations’ lifetimes,’ he told .
Upon hearing about John’s plans, his photographer pal Tim Leach offered to come along to take photos of them underneath the comet. As they watched the skies, ‘I just remember the amount of happiness I had going through me,’ John said. ‘All the nerves were gone at that point. I was just like, I’m massively in love with this girl. I’m going to do it.’
As he proposed, Erica broke out in tears, before saying yes. However, they couldn’t hug immediately due to the long exposure on the camera, meaning they had to stay almost entirely still in order to get the shot. After embracing, they staged another to make sure it was captured perfectly.
It was a total surprise to Erica, who said:
I’m just really happy Tim was able to be there and capture that moment for us. He froze the greatest moment of my life so far. It’s not just a memory. I can relive it as long as that photo lasts, and we are always going to have that.
John posted the breathtaking images to Twitter, where they quickly went viral. Astronaut Garrett Reisman – a favourite of John’s – even retweeted the photos, writing: ‘Well done. Congratulations!’
While that was an added bonus on top of the photos, Erica is happy their story ‘is being spread around the country and the world… that’s kind of awesome to see and to have some good news’. The couple hope to get married sometime next summer.