Why is my NexStar GPS telescope circling aimlessly when aligning?

The older NexStar GPS telescopes (those with version 2.2 or older hand controls and all those without versions for the hand control) have the North and Level method programmed in the firmware. These scopes will align to magnetic north and level when initializing during the alignment process.

Because it finds level as a part of the alignment process, the scope expects to be in a tube-down position when turned on. If you power up the scope in another position or do something like align the finder using the arrow keys before starting an alignment, this confuses the mount–causing it to wander excessively or circle instead of quickly finding north and level as it should.

Updated 12/21/13