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The following are the earliest times, not necessarily lechatechila;

Birchos Hashachar- even in the middle of the night, excepting hanosen lasechvi (machlokes) (if you will return to bed there are other modifications)

Korbanos- amud hashachar (if they mention the actual korbanos, otherwise you can say them before that)

P'sukei d'zimra- amud hashachar

krias shema- should not be said until misheyakir, but bediavad your yotzei from amud hashachar

Birchos Krias Shema- This is a machlokes and should preferably not be said before misheyakir

Tefila- amud hashachar

Bracha on talis- misheyakir

Bracha on tefilin- preferably misheyakir (ask your rav)

When amud hashachar and misheyakir are are debatable, ask your rav.

(If you need ref's for anything, let me know. These are spread out.)

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To grossly oversimplify, in case anyone needs a quick answer: the ideal time is around sunrise ["zricha" or "henetz"], but you can daven at "dawn" ["amud/alos hashachar"], about an hour earlier. The mitzva of tallis and tefilin starts somewhere in between ["misheyakir"], roughly a half hour before sunrise. So you can daven an hour before sunrise and put on talis/tefilin later. If you need to daven really early, you can wait to put on talis/tefilin till later in the davening, or put them on early with no bracha, then touch them and make a bracha when you hit half-hour before sunrise. –  Shalom Oct 8 '10 at 12:36
    
Could you add the case: if one did not sleep, what is the earliest time for Birkat HaTorah? Amud or netz? –  Larry Mar 5 '12 at 6:58
    
@Larry, sorry-I forgot to answer your comment previously. When a person says birchas hatorah, his intent is to apply the bracha to his entire awake time until he goes to sleep at night. So if a person goes to sleep and wakes a 2:00 AM to learn, he says hs birchas hatorah for the day then. If he doesn't go to sleep at all, some say there is no new bracha. And while others require a new bracha every day, safek brachos lehakel. (MB 47:28-29) –  YDK Mar 21 '12 at 4:16

The Shulchan Aruch: Orach Chaim: Siman 89 says that the ideal time to pray Sh'moneh Esrei is at Hanetz hachamah, when the sun shines on the top of the mountains (Mishnah B'rurah there). If one happens to daven after Amud HaShachar- when sun first breaks into the horizon- one fulfills his obligation.

The Mishnah B'rurah there infers from the language of the Shulchan Aruch that before the sun illuminates the East, even if Amud/Alos HaShachar occurs, one is not yotzeih even b'dieved. Although some disagree (See Biur Halachah), all seem to agree that before Alos itself, one is not yotzeih at all.

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Regarding Davening early it is best not to daven prior to Vasikin. However in times of great difficulty you may Daven as early as Misheyakir (Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim 58:1). You may even start Davening before Misheyakir up to Yistabach and put on Talis and tefilin at Misheyakir.

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Is it possible that 58:1 refers only to reciting Krias Shema? Also, is Vasikin a description of time or kinds of people? –  szk1210 Jan 19 '12 at 16:49
    
@szk1210 Both. The time is named after the people. –  Seth J Jan 19 '12 at 17:10
    
"You may even start Davening before Misheyakir up to Yistabach and put on Talis and tefilin at Misheyakir." Can you Daven all the way through and put on Tallith and Tefillin at Minhah? –  Seth J Jan 19 '12 at 17:11
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@szk1210: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/13245 –  msh210 Jan 19 '12 at 17:14

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