Radio Astronomy only differs from traditional optical telescope astronomy in that they operate in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum where they can detect and collect data on natural radio emitting sources.
Atmospheric Transparency to different wavelengths of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
Using a number of radio receiving techniques, an astronomer can observe high energy interactions in distant celestial objects such as Pulsars or closer natural interactions within the earth’s magnetic field, solar flares and radio storms on Jupiter. Further, since radio waves penetrate dust, radio astronomy can be used to study regions of the sky that are not visible to conventional optical telescopes, such as the dust-shrouded regions where stars and planets are born, and the centre of our own Galaxy the Milky Way.
For simplification Radio Telescopes come in five basic flavours:
- Basic Receiver
- Phase Switched Interferometer
- Any combination of the above
- Passive Radar (Meteorite Observation)
More information about Radio Astronomy and Radio Telescopes: