Surprise proposal goes viral after couple’s big moment caught on camera in front of rare comet

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(WTNH/ABC News) — The stars may not have aligned for one New York couple, but they got something even better on their engagement night: a comet! News of the cosmic proposal went viral with a retweet from the International Space Station.

“I went out looking for a comet that night and came home with a fiancé. It blew her mind away, she had no clue,” explained John Nicotera.

“He’s really big into space,” Erica Pendrak said, “so him wanting to see the comet wasn’t out of the ordinary.”

Wearing his NASA t-shirt, Nicotera talked about the moment that led to a public proposal to bride-to-be Pendrak under Comet Neowise.

“Saturday came and I forgot the binoculars to see the comet,” Nicotera said. So he texted a friend. “I texted Tim and said, ‘hey, do you have binoculars?’ He came back ‘no.’ Then, a couple minutes later he’s like ‘what if I come with you and meet you guys’ with his girlfriend. ‘And I’ll just take photos that night as well and you can see them through my camera.'”

The rare comet is clearly visible in the space between the two local teachers during their special moment.

“We went up on McCauley Mountain almost, an old landfill. It was beautiful besides standing on top of garbage,” Nicotera said.

“He got down on one knee and I was just completely shocked. Tears and everything,” Pendrak said.

Over the moon excited, Nicotera took to social media.

“Seeing something as silly as him tweeting, trying to reach out to astronauts, NASA, things like that — trying to get anyone’s attention,” Pendrak said. “Complete joke,” Nicotera added. “I had no expectations to hear from them.”

But once one retweeted, the floodgates opened.

Prior to his proposal tweet, Nicotera says he had only ever had a few likes and retweets on any given post. But this time he had thousands, including the International Space Station, NASA, Elon Musk, and more.

“What did I do? I broke the internet today!” Nicotera said.

“I feel like I was still trying to soak in the fact that we were engaged,” Pendrak said.

A meteorologist caught wind of the post and the couple was interviewed on the Weather Channel and Good Morning America.

And if you can believe it, this engagement story wasn’t supposed to play out this way. But the universe had other plans.

“We had a trip scheduled in July and I was planning to propose,” Nicotera explained. “We were going to Portland, Oregon and I was planning to do it there. That got canceled because of COVID. I couldn’t think of a plan B. Every plan I thought of was kind of boring.”

But plan B ended up being out of this world.

“The clouds got out of the way and it was a dream come true,” Nicotera said.

Once Comet Neowise disappears from view Thursday, it won’t come back for 6,800 years.

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