Fort Knox officials shine light on April 8 total solar eclipse

By Eric PilgrimApril 4, 2024

FORT KNOX, Ky. — While not in the direct path of the solar eclipse anticipated to pass across the United States on April 8, Fort Knox officials are asking the community to be mindful of their surroundings while enjoying the unique event.

Fort Knox officials shine light on April 8 total solar eclipse
Officials at Fort Knox are anticipating an historic celebration April 8, 2024, when community members will have the opportunity to witness a near total solar eclipse. So, they are urging viewers to think ahead about where they plan to observe the eclipse and ensure they have the proper eye protection. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Knox personnel can witness a 98% eclipse. Because of the installation’s proximity to a total eclipse, Installation Plans and Operations specialist Chad Westcott asked motorists to be aware of others, including children, moving around the post during the window of darkness.

“We should experience something like 98.6% totality here,” said Westcott. “The main concern would be traffic. [The Department of Defense Education Activity] is going to be in session. They do have a plan to allow parents to pick their students up early and coordinate if they are typically walking, but we know there’s going to be some foot traffic.”

While many schools are closing on Monday, Fort Knox Schools will remain open and release their students around 2:30 p.m., during a time of significant darkness before the peak eclipse passes over shortly after 3 p.m.

“So, we are concerned that folks traveling on the roadway don’t try to drive and observe the eclipse,” said Westcott.

The other major concern is eye safety, said Westcott.

Fort Knox Safety officer Garvin Purtteman said there are many major stores in the area that sell authorized versions of eclipse glass. Those glasses must meet a worldwide standard called ISO 12312-2.

Regular sunglasses, exposed film negatives and other “improvised or makeshift” alternatives are not recommended, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Neither is looking directly at the sun for long periods, even during a total eclipse.

Some people will likely decide to travel to a spot west or north of Fort Knox where they can see a 100% eclipse -- about 2 ½ hours away. Westcott warns that they should factor in more time due to expected increases in traffic at those locations.

As the Earth moves the sun along the path of the eclipse, people at Fort Knox will experience partial darkness beginning at around 1:45 p.m. and lasting until approximately 4:30 p.m. Officials suggest that those traveling around in vehicles during that time turn their headlights on to be more easily seen.

Officials suggest that motorists have water, fuel, medications and food on hand as they travel, and park somewhere safe before attempting to view the eclipse.

“We want people to observe it because it’s an historic event. We don’t get many opportunities to see something like this,” said Westcott. “We just want them to take accountability for their own safety and make informed decisions on where they’re going to observe it.”