I've read so many science fiction books on this sort of thing. On the one hand we have stories like "The Forge of God" and "Anvil of Stars" by Greg Bear - the idea here is that the reason we don't hear anything from other civilizations is that there are predators out there so anyone with a brain keeps their heads down and their mouths shut (as it were).
Then we have books like "Contact" by Carl Sagan and "Cradle" by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee which pose much more "friendly" scenarios.
Two of my favorite "First Contact" books are "Footfall" and "The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
And one of my all-time favorites is "Songs from the Stars" by Norman Spinrad.
I'm sorry .. .what were we talking about? (grin)
Even if we can only receive photons that provide us more detail of the far reaches, it is so cool the panoramas and exciting views that new futuristic telescopes will provide. Hubble provided us with just a glimpse of the vast space.
I wonder if we ever can reach transmission and engage with another civilization into an intelligent conversation, without the paranoia of the aborigine Indians of the Americas, in our earlier evolution times.
There is so much out there that it makes my head hurt -- but it's also so exciting -- and so full of wonder -- I remember when I first heard that they had discovered ice in some of the craters on the moon (where the crater wall blocks the sunlight and prevents it from melting the ice) and I thought "YES! Now we can build a base on the moon" ... and I still live in hope that this will happen ...
I would love to have a faster-than-light spaceship and to be able to roam the universe (or even just our galaxy) looking at the different solar systems and planets up close ...
Oh well, back to my Dr. Who DVDs... :-)