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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?

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Your time line is off somewhat, it wasn't before Star Wars that he dissolved the senate, but during it.

In the scene with Leia, Tarkin and Darth Vader and the destruction of Alderaan:

TARKIN: The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.

Quote sourced from imsdb

So Palpatine was (presumably on Coruscant) doing political, Emperor things.

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    Also, when Leia's ship is first boarded, she tells them she is a "member of the imperial senate on a diplomatic mission", IIRC. – LindaJeanne Jan 2 '16 at 13:39
  • You were slightly off on the timing of that quote, it was what Tarkin said as he and Vader walked into the meeting between the various other imperial officers on board the Death Star. – suchiuomizu Jan 2 '16 at 19:02

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