He was pretty old by the time he was prodded into writing things out, right? It wasn't as if people at the time rushed to publish their crazy young ideas looking to coast the rest of their careers on their early work. Francis Bacon was the guy who really formulated the basis for the next era of science. Copernicus just found a circular system with a much better fit than the Ptolestotelian [1.] establishment. A necessary step, but still only the opening shot of the revolution.
Science required the fragmentation of scholarship under the Reformation to allow people to take more risky positions. If we want to name it, it could be any of a number of folks, from Copernicus through Kepler, Bacon, and Galileo. First to fire gets the naming rights, I guess. It's as good a reason as any.
[1.] Think Filliam H. Muffman.