Do Tzait Hakochavim times indicate the time of best maariv? I read from one online source that it is acceptable to make Maariv by the hour and a quarter before sunset. Is this accurate or should it be a wait for Shki’at Hachama?
Essentially we should wait to pray maariv which is the nighttime prayer, and say the shema is until after tzeit hakochavim, (when the stars come out) that is when we know it is surely night time. In extenuating situations one may pray from plag hamincha, which is 1 and a quarter hours before sunset. This however is not ideal, and additionally, if one did pray then, he should say the shema again after the stars come out.