the manual http://manual.alliancewars.com/ is a good place to find out more about the game. The first thing you should do is build mines of both types, Ore and Uranium. If you have build something else instead it might take a few hours until you get enough tech points to build them. You get 200 tech points every Tick, which is one hour.
You can explore other planets 2 ways, 1 by sending a fleet to defend a planet which can take between 7 and 13 hours to get there and when the ship lands it will tell you whether it's inhabited or not and then return home which would take another 7-13 hours. The other way is to build a planet scanner under Scans. This lets you scan any planet you with at a cost of 500 Ore and Ura.
I suggest you try to join an alliance by messaging the leader telling him you are new and are interested in joining their alliance. Most alliances are very willing to take in new members and will help them figure out how to play the game. When you do get into an alliance, try to find out how they communicate or at least use the message boards which is under My Alliance. And here's a little bonus for you, when you've got some mines and troops being built, there's a technology that lets alliance members share the planets they've scanned with all their other alliance members. And most of the alliances have scanned the entire Universe too.
Remember to tell the leader that you are new to the game, because it's harder to get in late in the game with a very low score. You can look up the leader under Alliance Listings and clicking on an alliance. And when you go to make a new message, there is a space where you can put in someone's name and it will send the message to them so you don't have to know their coordinates. I'm sure Gauntlet would be willing to let you in if you're interested .