Breakdown is an important process in plasma science but is difficult to study because of its highly transient nature. It depends greatly on the discharge parameters such as geometry, gas pressure and applied voltage. The goal of this research was to study breakdown processes experimentally with sufficiently high spatial and temporal resolution for the features of breakdown to be observed. Measurements of breakdown at low pressure in three different experimental arrangements were made and the results compared. The main measurement method was detection of optical emission. A fluid simulation was used to help interpret results.