Scientists and politicians have expressed outrage over plans to shut down most of the Jodrell Bank observatory in Cheshire.
The site hosts the famous Lovell Telescope, and is part of a network of seven UK radio telescopes known as the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (Merlin).
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has said that it faces a shortfall in funding and may have to close the sites.
"The shortfall in our budget means that we have to come up with a programme that sits within that financial envelope and we have drawn up a list of priorities to achieve that," an STFC spokesman told the BBC.
"That list will be put to the scientific community for three to four weeks to consult and get their views. Nothing is concrete. The process is ongoing and we will be open to responses."
Many believe that the move makes little sense, since most of the work on the Merlin network is complete and the funding needed is just £2m a year. This is the same amount that the Cabinet claims in expenses each year.
Phil Diamond, director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, said: "It is not just us that is under threat, but we are the most visible. We were put on the low priority list, and I find that incredible.
" The potential impact on astronomy would be huge. We are trying to understand how galaxies are formed, how stars are born. These are all fundamental to how life evolved and we have to understand the whole sequence of creation.
"If we withdraw from Merlin and threaten Jodrell Bank, it means that the UK will effectively withdraw from radio astronomy."
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