UK astronomers were welcomed into the European Southern Observatory at a meeting held in London on Monday.
The £80 million initial membership fee will give British astronomers access to some of the world's most advanced telescopes, which are based in Chile. It will also have a major stake in future developments including the 100-metre OWL (Overwhelmingly Large Telescope) project.
The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council will be responsible for finding the £12 million annual fee. It has had to cut £5 million on operating existing telescopes.