Off-gas monitoring of experimental reactors give little information about intermediate reaction products and reflect chemical equilibria at reduced gas temperatures. A reactor design with optical access was designed and tested in order to be able to qualify and quantify gaseous species from their emission spectra. By use of a sequence of sapphire, UV fused silica and IR transparent sapphire and CaF2 windows and lenses optical access to a hot, maximum 1800 °C, reaction zone was gained. A cooled area behind the reaction zone was used as a background in order to avoid signal saturation from reactor walls. In addition to molecular emission spectra, atomic emission lines are used to characterize stable gas constituents and radicals. The setup has been designed for the study of methane dehydrogenation experiments in order to investigate the carbon activity of reduction of oxide with methane, but has also been used to monitor gaseous silicon suboxide.