So, in preparation for The Force Awakens, I'm watching Episodes IV-VI (for the first time that I'm really old enough to get the story). I've just finished Episode IV tonight, and was wondering - The Death Star is portrayed as the ultimate weapon, the key to the Imperial might over the galaxy. It's complete, tested (on Alderaan), and for all intents and purposes a floating fortress that is pretty much invulnerable (as far as the Empire thought at the time). On top of that, at some time before Episode IV, Palpatine dissolved the Galactic Senate, and it's stated that fear will keep the regional governors in line. Now, if I were an emperor who ruled through fear, I'd probably do it from my favourite La-Z-Boy in the very center of my super awesome new Death Star; I don't really think that I could resist it.
Now, I'm willing to bet Palpatine is a bit better of an evil overlord than I would be, but what was so pressing that he couldn't be there to giggle over his new found ability to destroy planets? Why was he not present during the maiden voyage of his new fortress of fear? Why wasn't he there to see the pesky rebel scum crushed?