“Just as optical telescopes collect visible light, bring it to a focus, amplify it and make it available for analysis by various instruments, so do radio telescopes collect weak radio light waves, bring it to a focus, amplify it and make it available for analysis.” (The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 2019)
The biggest difference between the two that I’ve found is that the wavelength of light that can be observed by a radio telescope is much longer. The wavelength observed can be from 1 mm to over 10 meters long! Visible light waves are only a few hundred nanometers long. This means we are observing at much longer distances with radio telescopes. The components and telescopes are much larger than viable light telescopes to get the resolution needed. They use “a radio receiver and an antenna system that is used to detect radio-frequency radiation emitted by extraterrestrial sources.” (Radio Telescope, n.d.) They both use a curved reflecting surface to focus the incoming waves and concentrates them to a point of focus.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory. (2019, November 27). What are Radio Telescopes? National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://public.nrao.edu/telescopes/radio-telescopes/Links to an external site.
Radio Telescope. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from http://abyss.uoregon.edu/%7Ejs/glossary/radio_telescope.html