Hi Pete, I dont know if this is any help, but I tested various eye pieces on my 8" Meade and a friends Celestron eight incher. I am a Meade fanatic, my friend is a Celestron freak. Our converging view was that optically both instruments are of equal (high) standard each displaying weaknesses and strenghs balancing each other out. I remain stuck with Meade, because of the excellent customer service the company has provided me with for both my scopes. But for similar reasons my friend remained a loyal Celestron customer, who also just upgraded to 14 ".
Whatever you may end up with you should be confident that either Scope -Meade or Celestron- is an excellent buy and by all standards the right choice.
My impression is, that SCTs dont really excell in anything ( be it deep sky, photography, planetary, solar etc.), but that makes them ideal instruments for Amateurs, because they can on the other hand do almost everything if you dont ask for perfection or in other words, they are the most versatile instruments for hobby astronomers especially if you are just beginning your observational career and cant know yet, what type of observation will thrill you most. with a relatively good priced Barlow or reducer lens you will be able to shorten or increase focal length and can thus expect similar performance you would obtain from any other kind of optical system. Therefore thinking of an SCT is a very pertinent consideration and I can only encourage you to go SCT.
SCTs are usually a little more expensive then refractors but provide more light gathering power; or even much more expensive then Newtonians but the interior of the optical tube is much less vulnerable and except for a little cleaning and occasional collimating, the SCT will hardly ever ask you for any maintenance. My Meade 8 inch is now 13 years old, and it gives me the same great results as on the first night (no major repairs were ever necessary although I travelled thru 3 continents with it and gave it some tough workouts). My new 10 " is 10 months old and promises the same long term trouble free performance. For both my scopes I use a lot of additional accesories, not only from Meade, but also from Orion, JIMIs, Celestron, almost every company in the ads. And just because SCTs are wide spread and vrsatile, I never had any serious problem of integrating these accesories. Most companies including Meade and Celestron do sell their articles with specific finishes for either brand and that alone should guarantee compatibility. I hope I could give more advice than add to the confusion, but as I said, if you are deciding between Meade and Celestron, there is little you can do wrong!