In various scenes in Star Trek TNG will can see out of the windows. The Observation Lounge has a whole wall-full of windows. Then - why can you NEVER see other parts of the ship through the windows?

From the observation lounge, immediately behind the Main Bridge on Deck 1, you should see the top of the saucer section sloping gently away, the top of the Engineering section, and the nacelles. But you see none of this. Only space.

Another area is the shuttle-bays - with the door open, you should be able to see the external top of the saucer section just outside and the nacelles, but again, it's always just space.

  • 1
    I guess everyone on the Enterprise knows what the nacelles look like. There is little use in reminding them by displaying them day by day in the window. And stars are way more spaceyer, gives the crew a good "final-frontier-feeling"! And probably it's cheaper to produce...
    – Einer
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 10:04
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    I think 'cheaper to produce' is the real reason, your suggested in-universe reasons don't really do it for me
    – NickJ
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 10:23
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    It's not obvious that you "should" see the saucer section sloping down away from below the bottom of the window, at least not unless you are standing at the window and aiming your eyes (or camera) at a downward angle. If your line of sight is a horizontal and you're not standing too near the windows (as with pretty much all shots of the windows in the observation lounge I think), what makes you think the saucer section would be visible?
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:38
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    Also not clear why you think you should see the "top of the saucer section" from the shuttle bays, since the shuttle bay doors face in the opposite direction from the top of the saucer, see labels 8, 11, 28 and 32 at cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/blueprints/galaxy-08.jpg (from cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/galaxy-class-starship.php )
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:47
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    The windows of the Obs Lounge go quite low, and they face out onto the almost horizontal upper surface of the saucer section. I'm sure it should have appeared an many shots. It'd be like looking out of a ground floor window - the ground would be clearly visible. Similar to the shuttle bays (at least shuttle bay 1) - just exterior to the door is a flat area, as clearly seen on the diagram. Since the floor of the bay itself is visible in shot, the flat area outside should also be visible. I think there probably is no in-universe answer, it is purely down to production costs or oversight.
    – NickJ
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 12:26

3 Answers 3


The short answer is that this is indeed a production goof. As you can see from the quick'n'dirty wireframe animation I threw together, you should be able to see at least the top of the rear of the saucer section (but not the nacelles themselves) from the observation lounge windows.

No in-universe explanation is offered. This sort of production error is generally indicative of Bellisario's Maxim; the need to avoid examining a show too carefully and to recognise that...

...the story is being told by a small production team that (due to the limitations of the medium) has to work quickly, with limited budget and tight deadlines

enter image description here enter image description here

  • That's a pretty close match with the wireframe by larryniven at trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=237784&page=8 -- but I wonder, how much wiggle room is there in creating a 3D model from canon published deck plans? If you raised the floor (and the bottom of the windows) by a meter or two, would that make the saucer no longer visible from a seated perspective like in the video clip above?
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 19:13
  • @Hypnosifl - The short answer is no. Raising the horizon even a handful of degrees makes almost no difference in what you can see...
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 19:19
  • thanks, I had forgotten that raising the floor a few meters would also involve raising the height of the viewer by the same amount, so it wouldn't just be a matter of lifting the blue lines in the wireframe while keeping the Enterprise at the same visual position in that graphic.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 19:42
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    Good answer, upvoted despite including Admiral Necheyev in the clip. She's not very nice!
    – NickJ
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 9:03
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    @NickJ - She's just doing her job (and loving it).
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 11:40

A little late to the party, but as for the Main Shuttlebay portion of the question, keep in mind that we've NEVER seen the interior of the E-D Main Shuttlebay. The closest we come is in "Cause and Effect", where we see into it a tiny ways from the exterior of the ship. Whenever we've seen characters in a shuttlebay or shuttles departing, it's always been in one of the smaller ones (because of the production limitations of the time). So those two are below the saucer section. Don't know why you wouldn't see the nacelles though.

  • It's not just the main shuttlebay; shuttlebays 2 and 3 are at the back of the "neck" that gently slopes down diagonally from the saucer. Whenever we see a shuttlebay from the inside, the outer door appears to be in an absolutely vertical wall, and we always see it well at an angle. However, we never see anything outside, e.g. the inner side of a recession in the slope. This is geometrically pretty much impossible. (Not to mention the tractor beam in that image that comes from somewhere above.) Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 7:30

That's more a aspect of where you are. Most of the time whose looking out is done on either the Observation lounge the angle of which you might see the hull of the ship if you were looking down and also the ready room which only has a window looking portside, or various crew quarters. The saucer section of the Enterprise-D is at a very acute angle, so much so that the windows are angled at nearly 45 degrees or less. decks 34-42 are also insanely acute angled they're practically skylights instead of windows. It may be difficult to look out at an angle for one, the windows might be several inches thick, as is the ships hull. The windows would function similar to an "Embrasure" like those of castles that permit looking out but are narrow to protect the establishment. enter image description here

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